By Spy Uganda
The National Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force has warned all landlords in Kampala to desist from opening their arcades, because government and the Ministry of health have not yet issued directives to that effect.
The warning comes after the Ministry of Health and the COVID-19 Task Force observed that some Kampala landlords have started opening up their arcades, which were closed in March this year, as one of the ways to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
However, rumours started circulating over the weekend that government has reached a decision to reopen Kampala arcades, after establishing Standard Operating Procedsures, which are to be followed by landlords and tenants.
The rumours started circulating shortly after a team from Ministry of Health, together with trade minister Amelia Kyambadde and several city landlords among them tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia, conducted a study tour of Mutaasa Kafeero Plaza in Central Kampala Business District, with an aim of establishing the SoPs that can be put in place not only at Mutaasa Kafeero Plaza but also at other buildings to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
It is said however that most Ugandans mistook this study tour to be government’s last step towards reopening arcades and as a result, several traders stormed the arcades on Monday hoping they would access their shops only to get disappointed after finding them locked.
Following the impasse, the COVID-19 National Task Force tweeted on Monday afternoon thus; “ALERT: The National Task Force hasn’t decided on the opening of arcades yet. Please ignore social media posts claiming the arcades have been allowed to open.”
This comes at a time when landlords in Kampala are calling upon the government to allow them to open their arcades, committing themselves to maintaining the health protocols that will be put in place by the Ministry of Health.
But apart from tenants who badly want to access their shops, we have established that even lawyers who have offices in these arcades are crying foul, pleading with government to reopen the buildings such that they can access their clients’ files.
This comes after the Uganda Law Society petitioned the Prime Minster of Uganda Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, a COVID-19 survivor, requesting him to intervene and give all advocates whose chambers are located in Arcades an opportunity to operate.
In their letter signed by Simon Peter Kinobe, President of the Law society, the lawyers contend that closure of City Arcades as a preventive measure of COVID-19 has greatly affected them since they can’t access their files, evidence and tools of their job which are locked in the offices, something that has incapacitated their operations.
“Some members have been pushed to the extent of appearing before courts without files which has cast on them a bad light as ‘unprofessional and unprepared’ before officers of the court and their clients,” the lawyers’ petition reads in part.
Kinobe has therefore requested the Prime Minster to direct land lords with law firms in Arcades as their tenants to give lawyers access to their offices in line with other guidelines similar to those which were given to other offices.
His letter was copied to the Chief justice, his deputy and the Chief Registrar.