Uganda suspends all public transport for 14 days to contain COVID-19 spread

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni during a previous address to the nation on the response to the coronavirus pandemic. COURTESY: TWITTER/State House Uganda

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday announced the suspension of all public transport for 14 days with immediate effect as part of efforts 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.

Museveni said that 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.

He added that in the capital Kampala, companies will be identified and licensed to start doing boda boda delivery business.

Museveni also announced that the 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.”

Museveni added that only essential staff in government offices should report to work as opposed to everyone being sent home. Museveni said 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 coronavirus bringing the total number of cases in the country to 14.

Museveni warned that Uganda will get more reports of scattered cases in the country and as such the imposition of such measures was necessary.

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