Hardly a week after President Yoweri Museveni announced a three-week extension of the lockdown intended to avert the spread of the coronavirus disease, traders in Kampala are forcing their way back.
On Friday, several traders in Kampala’s central business district opened their shops, almost three weeks after Museveni issued directives for all non-food shops to close. And as expected, the police responded – engaging in running battles with traders who had reopened their shops.
Several traders at various shopping malls had reopened their shops selling motor vehicle and motorcycle spare parts, cosmetics, new and second-hand clothes.
Police said the traders’ action was against President Yoweri Museveni’s directive banning all non-food business operations until May 5.
Riot and general police personnel commanded by the Kampala Central Police Station (CPS) operations commander, ASP Ivan Nduhura, started from Arua Bus Park and combed Kisekka Market, Nakivubo Road, Namirembe Road and Wilson Road forcing traders to close shops and ordering them to go back to their homes.
“Go back home. We don’t want you here. You will come back after the ban has been lifted. This is for your safety and your families,” ASP Nduhura told the traders.
One trader who was found on the veranda of Mackay Plaza and identified himself as, Johnnie Mukasa, said he had just come to check on his items. Mukasa noted that he had received information that thugs were breaking into buildings.
Last week police arrested 30 suspected thugs locked inside Platinum Complex in Nakasero.
Police said the suspects were locked up in the building by security guards for unknown reasons.
The suspects revealed that they had paid security guards 1,000 shillings to lock them up in the building. The guards escaped but police launched a hunt though they have not been arrested.
Vendors of non-food items were also ordered to return to their homes. There was some resistance at Kikuubo Market as traders, drivers and motorcycles loading cargo insisted they were operating under Museveni’s guidelines.
“Afande I am not in wrong. I am loading this cargo and I am taking it to Wakiso. I want to leave early so that I am not caught by time,” a Boda-boda cyclist loading shop items at Kikuubo Market responded when surrounded by police officers.
Several traders gave excuses similar to Mukasa’s saying they don’t trust security in Kampala a reason they often walk several kilometres coming to check whether shops have not been tampered with.
After being trolled for more three hours, police deployed teargas trucks but first choose to move through City streets pleading with traders and youth to return to their homes. Police said if people continue coming to town forceful measures would be applied.