Outspoken Makerere University researcher Dr Stella Nyanzi and several traders were on Wednesday morning arrested for demonstrating over the continued closure of shopping arcades in Kampala.
Dr Nyanzi and other traders had arrived at Biraj International Hotel in downtown Kampala near Capital Shoppers for a press conference in which they intended to issue their press release.
In the press release, the traders were giving government up to July 14 to reopen the arcades and waive rent arrears or else they demonstrate.
But before this could happen, police arrived and arrested them before detaining them at CPS Kampala.
In the statement, the traders under their umbrella association of Kampala Arcades Traders Association (KATA) urged the government to allow them to resume operations following Standards Operating Procedures (SOPs).
The traders, also want government, and particularly President Yoweri Museveni to announce to the country on how he intends to handle the issue of rent before July 13, 2020 or else, they will strike to show their dissatisfaction.
“If we don’t hear from government before the said date then we are going to organize a peaceful demonstration on 14th June, 2020 to show our discontentment. We are putting the onus of settling the rent issues squarely on government and in particular the President because he is the one who told us to lock our shops and go home,” the statement read in part.
Government last week released draft guidelines to prevent infection with Covid-19 as plans to reopen arcades get finalised.
According to the government, unlike malls, arcades present a higher risk for contracting coronavirus because of the design that makes social distancing and control of entry and exit of people very difficult.
According to the draft of the guidelines, the measures focus on social distancing, screening, hygiene and sanitisation.
Meanwhile Kampala Minister Betty Amongi today called on traders to remain calm and arcade owners to endeavour putting in place Standard Operating Procedures given to them.
“We appeal to the traders to stay calm and encourage landlords to expedite putting in place the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) given to them so that assessment is done for the reopening of the arcades,” said Amongi.