Government has suspended the 9pm to 5:30am curfew time restriction for buses and taxis that travel upcountry to aid the movement of learners who are stuck in parks.
The decision comes after the President ordered schools and education institutions to close by Monday which left hundreds of learners stuck in Kampala as they struggle to return home amid the limited number of buses and taxis. The closure was meant to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as numbers of infections rise sharply.
Dr Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health, said yesterday that in addition to waiving off curfew, they are discussing with the Ministry of Works and Transport operators to address the high transport fares, which have affected movement.
“Following the closure of schools and suspension of inter-district movement [for 42 days], we have noted increasing number of people who are congested in the parks trying to go home. Some students got stranded because a huge number poured in the park at a go and transport operators took advantage and hiked the fare. The other cause of the stampede [in bus parks] was curfew time,” she said.
“We have discussed this and the Ministry of Works and Transport has made arrangements to make sure the children who don’t have enough money to be transported to their places. The government is engaging the operators so that the children who are stranded can be transported at a normal fare,” she added.
Dr Atwine said the government is following up with Finance [ministry] to make sure there is a way of availing more buses to take the stranded children home but was quick to warn passengers to adhere to Covid-19 preventive measures.
The acting Police Director of Traffic and Road Safety, Mr. Lawrence Nuwabiine, asked security officers not to interfere with the movement of the transport means.
“All buses and taxis have been allowed to transport passengers out of their route schedules for three days. Please allow the buses to move at night and make return journeys from Kampala,” Mr Nuwabiine said.
Police last evening said they had organised free transport for all stranded students in Kampala.
ASP Luke Owoyesigyire, the deputy spokesperson for Kampala Metropolitan, in a tweet explained that only students in uniform and with school identification cards would be given priority.
He said the buses would be stationed at City Square.
Col Edith Nakalema, the head of State House Anti-Corruption Unit, had earlier stormed downtown to assess the situation. She found that some of the students had been charged Shs140,000 for a distance which on a normal day charges Shs40,000.
President Museveni on Sunday suspended schools and communal/religious gatherings for 42 days starting June 7, 2021 in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus after Ministry of Health reports indicated that there was an exponential surge in cases and community infections. The President also banned movement between districts starting June 10.