President Museveni has refused to adjust the night curfew times and also allow boda Bodas to carry passengers, saying the country risks a spike in COVID-19 community transmissions, Chimp Corps report.
“The aim of the curfew was primarily to act as an enforcement tool to prevent high risk nocturnal activities/establishments like Bars, Nightclubs, etc., from conducting business and to deter crime under the cover of darkness,” said Museveni.
“The start of the curfew at 7pm (just before darkness) and end at 6.30am (just at the beginning of daylight) was deliberate to deter crime. Pushing forward the curfew time from 7pm to 8pm, triggers delayed closure of other sectors like shops, supermarkets, public transport and gives opportunity of engaging in crime which strains law enforcement,” he added.
Ugandans continue to grapple with heavy traffic jam as motorists rush home to avoid being arrested by police personnel enforcing the curfew.
But addressing the nation on Monday night, Museveni said Uganda is in phase three of the Covid-19 pandemic as evidenced by the clustered cases in Amuru, Kyotera, and Buikwe, while the other border districts remain at high risk.
“Activities that promote convergence with non-feasible mitigations, can lead to occurrence of more clustered cases and eventually general community transmission. From the epidemiological point of view, the curfew acts as a measure to restrict activities that depend on convergence of people from taking place, hence reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19,” said Museveni.
“The idea is to discourage gatherings in homes, hotels, restaurants, etc. Going home early and staying home the whole night is part of the prevention. It means less mixing. The curfew time is, therefore, strategic to reduce risk of spread and preempt crime,” he added.
He also dismissed calls to allow Boda Bodas to carry passengers, saying riders and travelers are always in close proximity yet physical distancing is an important prevention strategy for COVID 19.
Further, said Museveni, the boda bodas don’t use traditional/gazetted routes like main roads or feeder roads.
Boda Bodas, if allowed to transport people at this stage of the epidemic, may lead to further spread with complexity in tracking cases and contacts, given the large number of people they transport and penetrating the society and reaching where the vehicles do not reach.
“People, walking to their homes is safer than the bodabodas spreading with passengers in the community,” said Museveni.
Boda riders recently introduced plastic barriers between the riders and passengers to prevent transmission of the virus.
But Museveni said the mitigation measures like putting a barrier between the passenger and rider to prevent contact may pose additional risk of hurting the rider/passenger in case of a fall.
He said the materials used for the barrier could also increase risk of COVID-19 transmission since some materials maintain viability of the virus longer.
“The innovation of introducing the barrier is applauded. However, there is need to review the risks and provide further guidance through SOPs. The innovations will be reviewed by the MOH in consultation with the ministry for transport and the Boda Bodas Association. In the interim, they should continue with only the transportation of goods,” said Museveni.