Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) has ordered city traders to forcefully open their shops in arcades that were closed in March 2020 as one of the ways to control the spread of covid-19 pandemic.
In a short notice issued on Monday, the management of KACITA said, “All traders operating your businesses in arcades come and open your shops tomorrow 14 July, 2020 as we follow the directives of the Ministry of Health (SOPs).”
Recently, traders and arcade owners accused scientists in the Ministry of Health of misleading the President to keep their buildings closed in the wake of Covid-19 instead of focussing on the danger caused by crowded streets.
They said stringent safety measures were put in place before the lockdown and that some of the traders, who have poured on the street as a result of closing arcades, are posing even greater risk than if they were operating from inside the arcades.
Scientists, however, maintained that studies to determine safer ways to reopen arcades are ongoing but that arcades present extremely high risk because of the design that makes social distancing and control of entry and exit of people very difficult.
While inspecting arcades a few days ago, Dr Emmiliano Ahimbisibwe, the manager in charge of health inspection and education at KCCA, who is also heading the COVID-19 arcade inspection teams, said buildings will only be reopened after being inspected and cleared.
“We came up with a list of SOPs and forwarded them in advance to all arcade owners so as to give them time to prepare and put in place what was demanded,” Ahimbisibwe said.
However, the taskforce, which inspected over 15 arcades discovered that some arcade owners are reluctant to implement the SOPs. Traders have for long petitioned the Government to open arcades, which were closed in March.
Muzamiru Kwebiiha Abwooli, a member of the taskforce representing Kampala Arcades Advocacy, said some arcade owners had downplayed the exercise and were reluctant to put in place SOPs as directed.
He said some arcade owners were harbouring false hope that they will be allowed to open without making adjustments and becoming compliant.
During his state of the nation address on covid-19 in June, President Museveni said arcades would remain closed until they are cleared by the Ministry of Health and other Covid-19 response teams to reopen again.
“Arcades should remain closed but the covid-19 taskforce together with KCCA and Ministry of Health should select some arcades to pilot safety measures before opening all of them,” Museveni noted.
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