COVID19: Policeman arrested hiding traders in Kampala Arcades

The officer only identified as Turyasingura on a police patrol truck following his arrest. PHOTOS/ MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

A police officer is one of the several people to have been arrested downtown Kampala today as security officers enforcing Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on Monday dispersed traders who had turned up to open their shops.

The officer only identified as Turyasingura was allegedly found hiding some traders in one of the arcades and when his colleagues tried to effect arrest, he threatened to open fire at his commanding officer, only identified as Nsiimenta, the officer in charge of Mini-Price Police Post.

The officer who was bleeding from the mouth and nose was seen being dragged to a waiting police pick up following his arrest.

His arrest followed police deployment in the city to disperse traders who had turned up to open their businesses amid a 42-day virus lockdown announced by President Museveni last Friday to contain the surging cases of Coronavirus.

In his address, relayed live on both radio and television on Friday, Mr Museveni ordered for the closure of Kikuubo lane and other crowded business centres.

However, some traders in arcades in the city have accused security operatives of misnterpetaing the president’s message.

“The president did not order closure of all arcades in the city. He was specific. Why are police officers ordering us to close our businesses and go home? Are they going to feed our families,” said a trader who deals in phones in one of the arcades along Namirembe road.

Moments later, police officers were seen handcuffing a mobile money agent for allegedly defying their orders to close his business.

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“Why are you arresting me? The president said utility business such as mobile money will remain open? What have I done?” he shouted as he exchanged with the two officers who had arrested him.

Other traders asked government to relax movement restrictions to allow them travel to their vilages where they hope to find others means of survival as their businesses had been closed.

This comes a day after government said it will use mobile money to deliver cash to vulnerable people who are affected by the second Covid-19 lockdown, which started on Friday night.

The government in April last year during the first lockdown distributed food to the urban poor, majorly in Kampala Metropolitan area, but a number of eligible people said they didn’t get.

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“We have agreed to have direct payment method and voucher system to provide assistance to the vulnerable people [affected by the second lockdown]. This time, we shall not give food. People have phones, we shall use mobile money. Those who don’t have phones, we shall use voucher system [to give the relief assistance],” Ms Nabbanja said.

Highlighting orphanages and slum dwellers, the Prime Minister said a committee of the National Task Force will sit on Tuesday (tomorrow) to determine the amount that will be given and the time when people will start getting the support.

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