Politicians who will be found distributing food and other materials to the masses will be arrested and charged with attempted murder, President Museveni has ordered.
This was one of the measures announced by President Yoweri Museveni, while addressing the nation this evening, about the novel coronavirus that has so far infected 31 Ugandans and 2 Chinese nationals in Uganda.
The president while giving the order, explained that many people gather to receive free food that has for the last few days been distributed by politicians including; Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Nakasekke MP Luttamaguzi and Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko who was barred from carrying out the activity earlier today.
The president also said Government anti-Corona-virus actions of stopping public transport and other measures have put the drivers and other people out of work and that they would distribute food to such people.
“Besides, many of them live hand to mouth ─ the daily bread. Without those activities, especially in the towns, such people may not be able to buy food. The Government, after properly identifying these people will distribute food to them in the form of akahuunga (maize flour), beans, powder milk, sugar, salt, etc” Museveni said.
Adding that in the meantime, I direct the Police to arrest the opportunistic and irresponsible politicians who try to distribute food for cheap popularity. Those are very dangerous to the health of the people. When you try to distribute food or money in such a situation, people gather around you. Many people can be infected in that process. You will, therefore, have caused the sickness or death of those people. Anybody involved in that effort will be arrested and charged with attempted murder” he warned.
The president has also announced a curfew from 7PM every evening. “Except for cargo planes, lorries, pick-ups and trains, starting with the 31st of March, 2020, at 1900 hours (Saa Moja ya Usiku), there will be a curfew throughout the whole of Uganda. All other movements should stop. Let people stay in-doors in their homes except for the cargo-transporters. The exemption of cargo transporters does not apply to the bodabodas, tukutukus or bicycles in the curfew hours. Those should only operate during daylight hours he said.
Meanwhile, President Museveni has banned movement of private vehicles, call it people to people movement by everybody including those using their private vehicles, bodabodas, tuk-tuks, etc.
He says this is because some private car owners have turned their cars into taxis, transporting the two people permitted by government, assuming that they would be members of one’s family, when in fact they were passengers being charged the exorbitant fare of shillings 50,000/- from Kampala to Jinja.
“Hence, the problem we were trying to cure of allowing the mixing of people from different sources, was not being addressed. Instead, it was taking new forms. The people with private cars were now the new public transporters without licences and facilitating the dangerous mixing in the process” he noted.
The ban on privately owned passenger vehicles took effect one hour ago, at 10:00PM (Ten O’clock ─ Shaaha inna ez’ekiro), today, the 30th of March, 2020.
The president said he could not give the public time to adjust but on more scientific study, it was found that this would be a wrong policy since a longer time would give people time to try and go to the villages. In so doing, they may transfer the sickness.
“We, would, then, not be curing anything. This freezing of movement will last 14 13 days from the 1st of April, 2020. This time it is not Fool’s Day; it is wise-person’s Day.”
Other measures announced are; shopping malls, arcades, hardware shops, which gather alot of people to sell and buy non-food items. These are suspended for 14 days starting with the 1st of April, 2020. All the non-food shops (stores) should also close. Only food stores, stores selling agricultural products, veterinary products, detergents and pharmaceuticals should remain open.
The Super-markets should remain open but with clear SOPs that should restrict numbers that enter and leave the site at a given time and the handling of trolleys within the super-markets. Alot of people can be infected by handling the unsterilized trolleys within the super-markets.
The established Food Markets in Kampala and the other towns should continue to be open. However, two precautions must be observed. One, the distance of four metres to the front, to the left, to the right and to the rear ─ between seller and buyer and also seller and seller must be observed in all the markets.
“The sellers must not go home during the 14 days. They must arrange to stay nearby for that duration. That movement between workplace to home and back, is part of the problem. Be in only one place for 14 days and we see what is happening.”
Saloons, Lodges and garages should also be shut for 14 days from the 1st of April, 2020. The factories will keep producing because that is the life-blood of the country. However, the danger is in the workers going home and coming back. It is that daily movement that must be frozen. “Factory owners should arrange for the crucial employees to camp around the factory area for the 14 days. If they cannot do that, let them suspend production for 14 days.”
Construction sites should continue if they can be able to encamp their workers for 14 days. Otherwise, they should suspend construction for the 14 days. The essential services are: the medical, veterinary, telephones, door-to-door delivery, Banks, Private Security companies, cleaning services, garbage collection, fire-brigade, petrol stations, water departments and some KCCA staff should continue to operate.
URA should also not close business on account of not paying taxes in these 14 days. These employers should, however, see whether they can encamp some staff near the workplace for the 14 days, which is the preferred way, or else get a special exemption from the RDC with the concurrence of the District Medical Officer.
Cargo transport by train, plane, lorry, pick-up, tuku-tukus, bodaboda and bicycle, within Uganda and between Uganda and the outside, must continue but only with minimum numbers, technically needed as follows: Cargo ─ Air-craft ─ only the crew; Lorry ─ not more than 3 persons i.e. driver, tonne-boy plus one, etc., as will be directed by the Ministry of Transport, working with the National Task Force on the Corona virus.
Gatherings of more than 5 persons are hereby prohibited. In order to deal with some unavoidable health issues like mothers in child birth or very sick people, permission can be sought from the RDC to use private transport to take such a person to hospital.
Government vehicles that do not belong to UPDF, Police, Prisons or UWA, will be pooled and deployed at the District Health Offices, including the divisions of Kampala, with their drivers, staying in tented compounds, ready to help in those health emergencies. Those vehicles will be under the command of the District Medical Officer.
On account of this pandemic, some sectors of the economy are suffering, such as the tourism industry, the entertainment industry, the transport industry, etc. “However, as I said earlier, new opportunities are emerging in this misfortune. You have seen how the demand for sanitizers, face masks, bicycles, etc., has stimulated new industrial opportunities. Working with the IMF and the World Bank, we shall set up a fund in UDB to accelerate industrialization through import-substitution and export promotion. You have seen how dangerous it is for Africa to excessively depend on imports from outside. This is the time to wakeup” Museveni noted.
Government will also discuss with Banks, electricity companies and water companies in connection with the loans and bills, many people have with these units. He noted that it is not correct to disconnect water or electricity on account of non-payment during this time of shutdown or to seize properties on account of the non-payment of loans.
Government workers should also stay at home for the 14 days, except for the Army, the Police, the Health workers, the Electricity, Water and Telephone workers. Even there, however, SOPs should be worked out for the soldiers, etc., that do not stay in the barracks