Uganda: Police Seal Off 400 Businesses in Soroti City Over Sops

Police and the army have sealed off a total of 400 business spaces in Soroti City for allegedly violating Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SoPs).

The affected businesses are in Juakali area on Liverpool Road, Cemetery Road and Solot Avenue.

They were closed under the directive of the Resident City Commissioner (RCC) , Mr Robert Adiama, as a measure to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Security forces only allowed a supermarket, Poonam Enterprises, and a health facility to operate.

Mr Adiama said he ordered the closure following Sunday's confrontation with the traders.

"I moved around to monitor how people were heeding to SoPs. Unfortunately, in Juakali, I noticed that people were playing cards, board games (omweso), ludo and mixing up recklessly and freely. They were not wearing facemasks, did not have functional hand-washing facilities nor were they social distanced," Mr Adiama said.

His attempts to educate them were futile as none heeded to his advice, prompting him to issue the directive.

"While I was there, they pretended to social distance and I left but on my way back, I found them in the same way, prompting me to order the closure of the businesses," Mr Adiama said.

The affected businesses include garages, hardware shops, restaurants, supermarkets, kiosks, and welding workshops, among others.

While addressing the Juakali business operators yesterday, Mr Adiama threatened to keep the place closed for the next 42 days or more if the affected traders do not heed to the President's directive.

On June 18, President Museveni announced several measures aimed at combating the spread of the virus. They included closure of leisure hubs like bars, betting centres, casinos, beaches, gyms, ban on public and private transport, revising curfew from between 7pm and 5:30am, and social distancing of at least 2 metres.

The chairperson of the Juakali Business Association, Mr Issa Kiiza, appealed to Mr Adiama to reopen the premises, saying they would embrace SoPs with immediately.

He promised to hand over those violating the presidential directives to police.

Mr Erukana Obiro, the community liaison officer at Soroti Central Police Station, said they will enforce the law and arrest culprits.

"We shall arrest and charge you in accordance with the law if you violate SOPs because the guidelines are for your own safety not for RCC, police or army alone," Mr Obiro said.

The area chairman, Mr Ibrahim Africa Alioli , said the closure is a lesson to others. "The chaos is always caused by few people who don't have families or anything to care for," Mr Alioli said.

He said two people tested positive for Covid in Juakali recently.

Source: The Monitor