Covid-19 directives: KCCA shuts non compliant arcades

KCCA law enforcement officers inspect arcades in Kampala. URN photo

Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA has started sealing off all arcades that have failed to comply with the Standard Operating Procedures-SOPs meant to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 30th, while lifting the 42 days lockdown, President Yoweri Museveni allowed city arcades to resume operations under strict observance of SOPs.

He directed the arcades to set up separate entries and exit routes, have CCTV cameras, provide handwashing facilities at all entrances and procure temperature guns to measure the temperature of all people accessing the arcades. He also directed them to set up a committee to enforce hand washing and wearing face masks.

He also directed the arcade owners to provide isolation rooms for holding COVID-19 suspects before they are taken to the hospital and stop vendors from operating on verandas, in corridors and in temporary buildings fixed in compounds of some arcades among other conditions.

Early last week, a team from Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA, Security and Ministry of Health embarked on an inspection exercise to establish whether the arcades had met the SOPs.

The Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs, Hajat Minsa Kabanda, said that 70 arcades were found to be non-compliant and had been asked to close until they adhere to the SOPs. These included among others, Arrow Complex, Arua Park Plaza A and B, Avemar Shopping Center, Bamako House, Bonita Arcade, Bypass Building, Center Point, Dembe Arcade and Esco Plastic House.

Despite this, the arcade owners went ahead to open them prompting KCCA officials backed by the police to storm downtown Kampala on Monday to ensure the arcades remain closed. The operation started along Ben Kiwanuka street and saw the team seal off Giant shopping arcade, Arua park plaza A and Arua park plaza B.

Daniel Muhumuza Niweabine, the KCCA spokesperson told URN on the phone that they had decided to conduct the operation to ensure compliance with the SOPs. He said the operations will continue until all arcades comply with the directives. ”Arcade owners who will insist on non-compliance risk prosecution because this is for their own good and ensuring a healthy city,” he said.

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Issa Ssekitto, the spokesperson Kampala City Traders Association-KACITA supported the operation, saying that it is meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the city.

He however faulted them for enforcing structural adjustments on the buildings they approved themselves and removing businesses, which the authority licensed in the first place.

The arcade owners, who are also involved in the joint inspection couldn’t be reached for comment about the ongoing operation. Godfrey Katongole, the Executive Director of Kampala Arcade Traders Association told URN that they are conducting their own inspections to establish non-compliant buildings.

He said that this will help them put the landlords on notice to ensure that each building follows set guidelines because in instances of non-compliance, its the traders who suffer the most yet the landlords insist on payment of rent irrespective of whether or not the buildings are open.

Paul Kawuma from Arua park plaza B said they are tired of mistreatment by the authorities because their building plans were passed and they are now closing them. He said that they have suffered enough in lockdown and wondered why they are being pushed again.

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Fahad Katenda, one of the traders wondered why the government didn’t ensure that everything is in order before reopening the arcades.

Nakawombe Lamula, another trader said that they were caught unaware when police stormed and started ordering them to close their shops despite their compliance with SOPs.

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