Traders under the Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) who Monday threatened to go against the existing government directives suspending operations of arcades as one of the measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, are currently holding a meeting with government over the same.
Arcades were among the places closed when the government declared a nationwide lockdown. Later, the government eased lockdown and opened some commercial areas including standalone shops, garages and Malls but arcades were left closed because government feared that they attract large numbers of people.
On Monday morning, KACITA issued a notice to its members who work from arcades to resume business today but under Standard Operating Procedures.
“Enough is enough, all traders operating your business in arcades, come and open your shops tomorrow 14th July, 2020 as we follow the directives of the Ministry of Health (S.O.Ps),” read the notice by KACITA.
KACITA’s Chairman, Everest Kayondo, confirmed to SoftPower News that the traders resolved to forcefully reopen the arcades because government has failed to allow us resume work despite many of the traders meeting all the pre-requisites.
However, on Tuesday, Thadeus Musoke Keno, the KACITA Secretary General informed the public in a statement, that the group is today set to hold talks with government on how to resume business in arcades.
“One of the main motives for this urgent meeting is to harmonise on the way forward for arcade opening and to also issue a list of arcades that have been inspected and granted permission to start operating,” Musoke said.
“We therefore request the business community to remain calm and as soon as the meeting concludes, a list of arcades granted authorisation to operate will be published to enable swift resuming of work,” he added.
According to KACITA, Monday marked the expiry of the ultimatum they gave to government to open arcades. The traders however allege that their colleagues in other parts of the country operating in arcades are working, thus wondering why the same is not happening in Kampala.
“After our investigations, we discovered that all other parts of the country and the new approved cities like Mabarara, Masala, Jinja, the arcades are already in operation yet arcades in Kampala are still closed which KACITA interpreted as unfair implementation of presidential directives,” added Musoke.
Police on Monday warned traders in arcades against risking to open arcades today on grounds that the move in unauthorised and goes against government directives on COVID-19.
Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, SP Patrick Onyango, told this news website that the traders ought to wait until government lifts suspension on operations in arcades.
“We call upon them (traders) to be calm and patient as we wait for the government directives on when they will open. As of now, there is no arcade that will be allowed to open,” SP Onyango told this news website.
“Until government issues another directive, the current directive is that they are closed and it has not changed and so, as Police, we shall firmly implement the government directives on arcades,” he added.
Indeed on Tuesday, the arcades across the City remained closed despite attempts by some traders to have them opened but barred by police. Unconfirmed reports indicate that several traders have been arrested and now under police custody.
Last week, the Minister of Kampala Affairs, Betty Amongi issued a number of guidelines to arcade owners before the business centres can be reopened.
The guidelines issued included keeping the premises and access ways clean, hygienic and not blocked, and that corridors and access ways are free of any obstruction, stockpiles and temporarily structures.
The arcade owners and the business people who operate in the business centres were among other things asked to have adequate natural lighting and ventilation in the premises, a dedicated entry and exit point and dedicated persons to man them at all times.
They were also asked to put in place a closed Circuit Television Camera-CCTV at each entry, exit and level and a body temperature screening of clients and attendants using functional infrared thermometers. There should be a dedicated isolation room in case they get any suspects, according to the Minister.