Inspection of Arcades in Kampala intensifies.

By Prossy S Will – Updated at 1410 on Thursday 0th Aug 2021

KAMPALA

Uganda Government on Tuesday started inspecting arcades in Kampala Capital City to ensure that they adhere to the Covid-19 standard operating procedures.

The inspection exercise is being conducted by Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA in partnership with security personnel from the Kampala Metropolitan Area.

Following the easing of the lockdown by the President last Friday, the arcades are required to have separate entrances and exits, CCTV cameras to monitor the arcades, washing facilities at all entrances, a committee to enforce hand washing and wearing masks and temperature guns. They are also required to have isolation rooms where COVID-19 suspects can be managed.

Vendors operating on the verandas, corridors and in makeshift structures around the arcades have been banned.

The Director of Public Health and Environment at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Dr Daniel Okello says that the arcades that shall meet the requirements will be issued with a compliance certificate and allowed to open.

While inspecting arcades, Dr Emmiliano Ahimbisibwe, the manager in charge of health inspection and education at KCCA, who is also heading the COVID-19 arcade inspection teams, said buildings will only be reopened after being inspected and cleared.

“We came up with a list of SOPs and forwarded them in advance to all arcade owners so as to give them time to prepare and put in place what was demanded,” Ahimbisibwe said.

However, the taskforce, which inspected over 15 arcades discovered that some arcade owners are reluctant to implement the SOPs. Traders have for long petitioned the Government to open arcades, which were closed in March.

Muzamiru Kwebiiha Abwooli, a member of the taskforce representing Kampala Arcades Advocacy, said some arcade owners had downplayed the exercise and were reluctant to put in place SOPs as directed.

He said some arcade owners were harbouring false hope that they will be allowed to open without making adjustments and becoming compliant.

Kwebiiha said the taskforce had decided to inspect arcades without prior warning, but found that they were not implementing the SOPs.

“We are now inspecting arcades at the invitation of the owners who feel they are ready,” he said.

The task force, which was split into four teams to expedite the process, inspected Royal Plaza, Grand Plaza, City House, Market Plaza, Magoba Arcade, Park Enkadde Plaza, Gazaland, Nabukeera, French Plaza, Total Arcade, Temuseo Plaza and Kizito Plaza. Others were Binco Plaza, Boost House, Giant Plaza, Grand Corner and Naiga Arcade.

Ahimbisibwe explained that whether the arcades open now or in the near future, they must meet the set standards including flush toilets, ventilators and other facilities.

“We have seen premises with toilets that don’t flush. Whoever uses them must scoop water from a container and pour it into the toilet. This is unacceptable in a modern city,” he said.  

Kwebiiha faulted KCCA for allowing many arcades to operate without basics such as toilets, ventilators and other requirements, even before the outbreak of COVID-19.

 “We discovered that most arcades do not qualify to reopen because they lack most of the required facilities. Even those which have them, they are substandard,” he said.

The team insisted that arcades must have one-way entry and exit routes.

Jeff Drani, one of the team leaders, asked owners to separate plastic dustbins from other bins, pin up stickers and signposts about social distancing in prominent positions and have isolation rooms for evacuation, just in case a client or tenant is found to have coronavirus symptoms.

Abdul Hadhi, the property manager for Royal Plaza and Market Plaza, said they had put in place all the SOPs, but others will be implemented when they are allowed to open. 

“We have prepared for social distancing, but we cannot demonstrate it, until we open,” he said.

On the ground

 We discovered that most arcades do not qualify to reopen because they lack most of the required facilities, even those which have them, they are substandard,” he said.

The team insisted that arcades must have one-way entry and exit routes.

The Minister for Kampala Capital City Authority and Metropolitan Affairs, Ms Minsa Kabanda, on earlier on Thursday vowed to close all city arcades that have not complied with the standard operating procedures (SoPs) .

Ms Kabanda made the remarks while inspecting the arcades and wholesale shops in parts of downtown Kampala, where she was in the company of other compliance team members.

“You are all aware that the President gave out the directive that all the kiosks on the buildings should be demolished and other temporary [structures]so that we create space for people. Therefore, I don’t want any vending on buildings,” she said.

Ms Kabanda added that she found some wholesale shops and arcades with many people, but told them to comply or face permanent closure.

“I have given the shop owners and arcade managers a warning for today,  but I am going to close them tomorrow permanently if my team finds that they have not complied with the given standard operating procedures. They will not be given a certificate of compliance,” the minister said.

Ms Kabanda, however, said some people have adhered to the SoPs in some shops and arcades, especially those that have not opened and are waiting for the compliance team to inspect them.

“We thank those that have not opened and are waiting for us, we shall go there and also inspect them and we give to those that have complied,” she said.

The manager of Justine Arcade, Mr Herbert Mubiri, said he had chased away all the street vendors near the building to save his tenants.

“The minister and her team told us to adhere to SoPS and I have told my people to comply, on behalf of Justine Arcade, we are ready to receive the inspection team,” he said.

Ms Judith, a dealer in general merchandise in Kikubo,a commercial hub,  said the Covid-19 situation is everybody’s concern, including the business community.

“We don’t want our people to die, including our clients, so it is a requirement to follow the directives of the President,” she said.

“We also expect that authorities in Kampala, the business community and the government keep sensitising the people instead of beating them and grabbing their properties,” she added.

Last Friday, President Museveni partially opened up the Ugandan economy, with strict guidelines after 42 days of lockdown.

In his new directives, Mr Museveni said Kikubo will open and the kiosks outside the arcades be removed to provide space.

He also said malls and arcades will open if they comply with SoPs, which include having clear corridors, proper ventilation and proper hygiene.

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