By Ahumuza Muhumuza
As the gigantic wheels of reopening slowly creak open, culminating with the lifting of the night economy a week from now, a dark cloud is being lifted from the lives of many Ugandans. For two years, the social lives of law-abiding party animals have been in limbo – ever since East Africa’s party capital, Kampala, was put under a curfew, harshly enforced by marauding Local Defence Unit soldiers.
Last Friday, Ugandans watched with bated breath as the President addressed the nation, many fearing he may delay reopening the country due to the omicron scare. Perhaps cognisant of the fact that his voters’ patience had been stretched past breaking point, the President, against the wishes of his health advisers, decided to reopen the country.
The opening came in phases, as has come to be expected from the big man over the past two years. Schools go first, opening today, January 10, followed by bars and discotheques. The performing arts, including concerts, open on January 25, accompanied by the long awaited lifting of curfew on the same day. Cinemas, sports activities and the transport sector will fully open on January 25 as well. Only bodabodas (motorcycle taxis) which have become notorious for facilitating crime over the years, will remain under curfew.
As usual, the President attached conditions to the opening, some a tad bit unrealistic; all commuters on public transport, as well as the conductor, must move with cards that prove they have been fully vaccinated. (What happened to bodabodas having to register passengers’ details? Did anyone ever do that?)
The President also warned that some of these measures would be reversed if cases in intensive care and high dependency units shoot beyond 50% – by which time most of us would be too dead to care. The President also pointed out that more than 11 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, so we should be relatively safe. If you are not yet vaccinated, please make time and get the shot, before you take shots (of tequila).
Protecting drunkards from themselves
Following the President’s address, the Police came out to announce they would monitor the safety and security of pupils as schools reopen on Monday.
A statement from the Commissioner of the Uganda Police Force, Fred Enanga, urged schools to examine children upon their return “for any signs of abuse during their holidays.” Enanga added that parents should set up GPS tracking devices on their children’s phones and other items. Ensure your little ones know your mobile numbers and the emergency police numbers, the Police say.
So how about revellers? How does the Police plan to protect them from themselves and others? When the President was locking down bars, he revealed that drunkards are a danger to themselves (he did not mention that they are among the nation’s top tax payers through the support they provide to breweries).
The President advised that even after opening up of bars, the elderly should endeavour to remain at home as they are more likely to succumb to the disease. This means that sugar daddies and mummies need to stay at home a little longer, especially now that they have drained their pockets paying school tuition.
Mbale OC Joyce Nandudu says the Police are ready to maintain security even after curfew is lifted. She advises revellers to move with their vaccination cards whenever they go partying.
“You should maintain all the SOPs, including social distancing, keep your mask on and regularly wash hands whenever you go out,” Nandudu says. “Whoever fails to comply will be arrested. The Police will ensure security remains tight,” she added.
Nandudu advised that, if possible, Ugandans should remain home and avoid crowded places.
Since the gallant Police forces have our back, we can go out and drink from the source without any worries (besides school fees that is). A toast to y’all; happy reopening from us here at The Kampala Sun.