COVID-19: MINISTER KYAMBADDE WARNS LDUS, POLICE AGAINST BEATING UGANDANS, CLOSING ARCADES, BEER DEPOTS, RESTAURANTS
By Mulengera Reporter
Amelia Kyambadde, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, has clarified on measures issued by President Yoweri Museveni to regulate trade hours after Uganda’s Covid-19 infection toll rose to 14.
“For now, the markets should only be for selling foodstuffs like matooke, groundnuts, rice, fish, etc. Therefore, trading, in the market, other non-food items like clothes, mobile phones, necklaces, shoes, etc. has been suspended to create space [for social distancing],” announced Museveni in his fifth Coronavirus address delivered from State House Nakasero Wednesday evening.
Thursday morning, Local Defence Units (LDUs) joined Police and Military officers in ordering shops, salons and arcades to close in Kampala, and thrashed some businesspeople in the process. (See: CHAOS AS SECURITY OPERATIVES ENFORCE MUSEVENI PUBLIC TRANSPORT BAN, CLOSE SHOPS).
But hours after the operation, Minister Kyambadde noted that Thursday’s actions by security officers told volumes on their misapprehension of Museveni’s directives by security operatives.
“There has been a misinterpretation of President Museveni’s directives. I have been told that restaurants, arcades, saloons, shops, supermarkets are being closed. That’s wrong. They should continue to operate as long as they are not in food markets,” clarified Kyambadde in a briefing at the Kampala-based Uganda Media Center.
“Police are not supposed to close alcohol depots or shops. Bars are the ones that should close because that is where people converge. We have no problem with people buying alcohol and taking it with them to their homes.”
She further explained that not all bodabodas should be blocked from operating, making President Museveni’s exception on the suspension of commercial motorcyclists clearer, thus: “Bodabodas carrying cargo are accepted to work. Police should not confiscate their bikes. The restriction on bodabodas is only on carrying a passenger. This is for the safety of both the passenger and the rider.”
The Minister also took issue with the way police and LDUs flogged Ugandans downtown Kampala, and advised officers to explain to the people instead of thrashing them.
“Another issue is beating people. Why are you beating citizens? This goes to especially LDUs. If you find them standing doing nothing, please explain. Maybe if they turn rowdy – you know some Ugandans. But don’t beat, explain to them,” appealed the Minister.
OTHER KEY ISSUES
#1: Water, Power Prices
“Government is concerned about the cost of utilities especially water and is considering reviewing the rates and also look at the supply system so that we are able to afford it.”
#2: Hoarding Goods
“Traders should desist from hoarding goods. The government would like to implore the RDCs to head a task force composed of LDUs to ensure these traders are dealt with. Failure to comply, licenses will be revoked and premises sealed off.”
#3: Harassing Investors
“There have been complaints of harassment of foreigners by locals suspecting them of having Coronavirus. I would like to thank Ugandans for their vigilance. However, let us handle them according to the law. They should as well report themselves to the health centres through the Ministry of Health.
“We have been in talks with factory people who say their prices are still the same. Traders will be brought to book because right now, everyone is in a tight spot. We need to go through this together.”
#4: Cargo Stuck at Border Points
“About the complaints received of Ugandan trucks stuck outside the border at Malaba and Busia, we have negotiated with Kenya and the trucks have been cleared for entry, they have finally allowed them in.
“In terms of trade and cargo, all entry and exit points remain open in the region. When moving cargo, only three people are allowed to escort it. They must observe health regulations in places of entry and along the transit routes.”
#5: Factory Workers
“I would like to appeal to industries to decongest their factories and allow workers to work in shifts. We are trying to see how their official vehicles can get passes to be able to transport them.”
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