57 city arcades fail Covid test, remain under lock and key

Traders seated outside one of the closed city arcades downtown Kampala recently. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

What you need to know:

  • The checklist. The inspection teams use a checklist, which includes, presence of compliance officers at all entrances of arcades, free corridors and access ways, observance of proper hygiene and sanitation, adequate lighting and ventilation, dedicated entry and exit, installation of CCTV cameras and approved building plans.

At least 57 city arcades remain under lock and key after failing to fulfil the Covid-19 Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs) nearly a month after the second lockdown was lifted.

Kampala junior minister Kyofatogabye Kabuye told Daily Monitor in an interview yesterday that landlords of the closed arcades are squarely to blame. 

“We will not…risk the lives of many Ugandans who operate in the arcades. We will not reopen arcades that have not met the requirements, but we are ready to inspect arcades whose landlords think have ticked all the boxes,” he said.

Mr Kabuye added that the said landlords want to use shortcuts.

“Some [landlords] have been coming with Shs2 million to bribe me, but I would tell them that the appointing authority pays me well for my job,” he said.

Last week, Mr Kabuye gave at least 127 city arcades the green light to reopen. Several other arcades, however, remain closed. The protracted closure of the arcades has left hundreds of traders counting losses, with the grounded merchandise primed to surpass sell-by dates.

The chairperson of Kampala Arcades Advocacy Forum (Kaafo), Mr Hussein Kato, said they are engaging landlords to comply with the guidelines so that traders can access their shops.

“Traders are counting in losses but landlords seem not to care. Why are they defying the government on Covid-19 guidelines yet this is a matter of health?” he wondered.

While easing Uganda’s second lockdown on July 30, President Museveni cleared arcades to reopen under strict observance of SOPs. Subsequently, the Kampala minister, Ms Minsa Kabanda instituted committees to conduct inspections in the Central Business District (CBD).

The inspection teams use a checklist, which includes, among others, presence of compliance officers at all entrances of arcades, free corridors and access ways, observance of proper hygiene and sanitation, adequate lighting and ventilation, dedicated entry and exit, installation of CCTV cameras and approved building plans.

angwomoya@ug.nationmedia.com