KAMPALA – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday announced the suspension of all public transport for 14 days with immediate effect as part of additional measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
Museveni made the announcement in a televised live address following a special Cabinet meeting in response to the new coronavirus cases confirmed earlier in the day.
“The government has decided to suspend, for 14 days, all public transport. This means all taxis, all minibuses, all buses, all passenger trains, all tuk tuks and all the boda bodas are suspended. Why? Because we want to minimize movement,” Museveni said.
According to President Museveni, only private vehicles will be allowed on condition that such vehicles carry a maximum of three people, including the driver.
Trucks and lorries delivering cargo and delivery vans and pickups will still be allowed to operate strictly as long as they are carrying food and essential commodities. Boda bodas (motorcycle operators) and tuk tuks will be allowed to operate as long as they are not ferrying passengers.
Museveni noted that in the capital Kampala, companies will be identified and licensed to start doing boda boda delivery business.
He also announced that government had suspended the sale of non-foodstuffs in open-air markets as part of efforts to reduce congestion in open places and human-human contact.
“The selling of clothes, necklaces, mobile phones, sandals, shoes, all those nonfood items…hold on, you will come back. To create space, stay at home, let only the food people stay in the market. We think this will reduce numbers and then they can be able to maintain what they call the social distance.”
Mr. Museveni added that only essential staff in government offices should report to work as opposed to everyone being sent home. He argued that having no one working in government offices will lead to an economic shutdown.
“Each ministry should work out a plan of the essential staff that need to remain on duty. Take for example, the Revenue Authority must remain on duty because our goods are still coming from outside Uganda and coming into Uganda; someone needs to clear those goods, needs to collect those taxes so as to remain on duty.”
Uganda on Wednesday confirmed five new cases of the Novel coronavirus bringing the total number of cases in the country to 14.
“Among these new cases is a trader from from Adjumani who frequented the border with South Sudan, a baby in Iganga whose father had recently returned from Kisumu Kenya and two Chinese nationals recently stopped in Zombo on their way to DR Congo,” Museveni said.
He warned that Uganda will get more reports of scattered cases in the country and as such the new enhanced measures were necessary.
The president then directed all government vehicles in the district be put at the district headquarters under the command of the District Health Officer who would be assisted by police, such that when any suspected cases arise, there are no excuses of no vehicles.
he ended his speech by quoting a Biblical verse [Isaiah 26:20], where it says, “Go home, my people, and lock your doors! Hide yourselves for a little while until the LORD’s anger has passed.”
“What we are dealing with are not new things. They have been there in the past and were handled. This too will be handled,” he said.