Leaders of Mwanjari Market Vendors in Kabale District have stormed the office of the Resident District Commissioner – RDC demanding explanation as to why weekly markets are still closed despite the reduction of COVID-19 cases in the area.
Kabale is one of the 11 Districts that were declared as hotspots in the 30th July state address in which President Yoweri Museveni explained that the COVID-19 prevalence rate was still too high to allow operation of weekly markets since they encourage cross border movements.
At the time, Kabale Regional Referral Hospital was only second to Mbale and Soroti in COVID-19 hospital admissions.
Mwanjari , Kabale’s largest weekly market that opens for business twice in a week has been closed since the outbreak of COVID-19 second wave in May last year up to date. The affected traders said they were feeling neglected because President Museveni had failed to re-open the market even after cases reduced in Kabale District.
The Chairperson of the Mwanjari Market Vendors Association Teddy Tabaro and her Deputy Alex Muhumuza said the vendors were chocking on loans and accumulated arrears due to the long time halt on the weekly businesses which were their only source of income.
The duo demanded to know why other markets in Kabale town were operating with a larger number of people compared to Mwanjari Market, yet the authorities insisted that it was still unsafe to re-open weekly markets.
Samuel Kakuru and Winnie Turyamureeba asked Government to consider re-opening of weekly markets even if it was under strict observation of COVID-19 preventive operating proceedures, so that they can be able to save their families from starvation.
The Acting Kabale District Health Officer Alfred Besigensi agreed with the vendors that it was time to review the suspension of weekly markets because the COVID-19 prevalence rate in Kabale had reduced to below 10% . However Besigensi explained that the final decision was upon the National taskforce and the President after making thorough assessment of the COVID-19 reports from Kabale.
Kabale RDC Godfrey Nyakahuma told the vendors that he did not have powers to re-open the weekly markets for them, but he pledged that he would write to the president explaining their plight and the need to re-open the markets since the COVID-19 cases were reducing in the District.
Apart from Mwanjari, other weekly markets closed in Kabale District include, Kabanyonyi in Buhara Subcounty, Habubaare and Bigaga in Butanda Subcounty, Maziba market in Maziba Subcounty, Mayengo in Kamuganguzi subcounty, and Harutinda on the shores of lake Bunyonyi in Kitumba Subcounty.
According to statistics from office of the District Health Officer, by 3rd November 2021, Kabale had 76 active COVID-19 cases with only 15 hospital admissions . The district has cumulatively registered 2,789 cases and 120 of them have succumbed to the virus since July 2020.
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