BY AMBROSE GAHENE
President Yoweri Museveni last week on Friday eased the Covid-19 lockdown measures imposed on June 18. A a section Ugandans were left celebrating while others wondered what to do next.
President Museveni, among others, allowed private and public transport vehicles to operate. He also allowed arcades to reopen but under strict adherence to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) among others.
However, the business community, comprising mainly retail, wholesale and owners of Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs) have a different story to tell! The lockdown also left business owners without any cash to re-start business.
Isa Ssekito, Kampala Capital City Traders Association (KACITA) while talking on a local Radio station recently, said like the first lockdown, small scale traders have never been able to stabilize and run their businesses successfully due to lack of enough capital.
He said Uganda Development Bank (UDB) extended loans to only big business enterprises such as manufactures and corporate organizations, leaving out SMEs and small scale traders who make up
the bulk of the business community in the country.
“The small scale business communities whose business premises were closed during lockdown face rent challenges in addition to having their merchandise getting either destroyed or expired.
“The traders cannot meet the conditions stipulated by UDB to access loans, as many of them do not even have money to hire consultants to write business plans”, he said.
He called on the Government to put in place loan schemes to benefit SMEs on favourable conditions.
In his address, President Museveni pointed out that the lockdown has been of great help leading to a reduction in daily confirmed cases from 1,735 to an average of 71 per day now, whereas the positivity
rate has also gone down from 22 percent to only 8 percent.
“Therefore, when this crisis started I had to intervene to protect
health workers from being overwhelmed and to save the population from massive deaths. There has since been a reduction in daily deaths and admission of critical patients,” Mr Museveni said.
He said there were three options, including fully reopening, partial
reopening or continuing with the total lockdown but noted government had to strike a balance between controlling the spread of the virus on one hand and the mitigating effect of the lockdown on the economy and the general wellbeing of Ugandans on the other hand.
President Museveni said the taskforce decided that the country goes with the partial lockdown but under strict Standard Operating Procedures to be followed by the population.
“Partial opening up will see an increased number of infections in the first week since everyone will be coming out after the lockdown but this would later reduce.
“It is therefore good to ensure observance of SOPs in the partial lockdown. Based on scientists’ advice, I now revise my directives,” Mr Museveni said.
“Therefore, curfew is maintained at 7 pm and all persons except security and those cleared to move at night should be in their homes. Public transport will reopen at 50 per cent capacity beginning Monday.”
The President added that public transport associations should regulate themselves and failure to comply with the decision to reopen will be reversed whereas boda bodas are allowed to carry one passenger but stop at 6 pm.
He said private vehicles are now allowed to move across district
borders but carrying a maximum of three persons, including the driver whereas shopping malls and arcades are reopened.
Kikuubo, which is Kampala’s business centre was also reopened but to operate only as a wholesale trading centre. Roadside kiosks and roadside vending were abolished so as to decongest pathways.