By Ssenabulya Isaac
Major stakeholders in the entertainment and service industry have petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, to intervene in their timeless closure by government in her bid to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under their Club, Restaurants and Entertainment Owners Association of Uganda, they admit that they can no longer service their obligations such as loans and rent.
While presenting their concerns to Kadaga on 25 June 2020 at Parliament, the chairperson of the association, Tesfalem Gherautu, said that the continued closure of clubs and entertainment places has also led to loss of jobs, thereby rendering the youth idle as they account for the bulk of their employees.
“Our sector is a linked sector and its closure affects the agriculturalists who supply to the leading tax payers (Brewers) inputs, who supply food for restaurants, the manufacturers of tissues, detergents, glasses and cutlery,” he added.
Gherautu said that the entertainment industry is aware of the need to limit social networks and therefore, proprietors are willing to ensure that reopening of their businesses is phased, with strict Standard Operating Procedures.
“We shall work with government to ensure social distance is maintained in our facilities. We shall also introduce and maintain access control measures including the use of sanitisers, temperature guns and hand washing points,” he said.
He added that they will observe outdoor sitting arrangements to eliminate the use of air conditioning and congestion.
Kadaga said she will ask government to address the matter during the plenary sitting.
“I have been engaging government on a number of sectors but we had not yet touched this one. S, I am going to inform the House and then send it to the national task force. I will also discuss with the Head of State and see what can be done because it is quite hard,” she said.
She added that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to the realisation of how sectors are interlinked and important to the growth of the economy.
“I was taking for granted the taxis but the taxi creates a job for the driver, tout, car washer, cook and many others. All these sectors are needed to support one another,” Kadaga said.
Relatedly, the Boda boda Association of Kira Municipality in Wakiso district also petitioned the Speaker to address their plight so that they are allowed to transport passengers, which is more lucrative than delivery of merchandise.
As part of the measures to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19, government limited the operations of boda boda riders to delivery of merchandise only.
The speaker of the association, Julius Byarugaba, said that they are struggling to sustain their families because their businesses have been affected.
“Many of us have been evicted from houses due to failure to pay rent. We are witnessing increase in domestic violence cases in our families because the men cannot provide,” he said.
Byarugaba said that government should allow boda bodas to carry passengers and ensure they wear face masks and helmets. “We even propose that riders be restricted to work within their districts to limit movement of passengers from one district to another,” he said.
Kadaga assured the riders of her support, saying that she had recently raised the matter with government during the plenary sitting this week. “I will raise this matter again today during the plenary sitting,” Kadaga pledged.