By Federick Dramadri

Arua City: Following the letter dated 10/7/2020 from the ministry of health addressed to the chairperson of Arua district coronavirus task force permitting the district to operate taxi and buses with restrictions of carrying have the number accompanied with constant temperature truck, hand sanitizing and others.

While delivering the message from the letter to the members of the task force including heads of department of transport in the city, the Resident City Commissioner, Nahori Oya who is also the chairperson of the Task force elaborates that this doesn’t mean all is lifted and if the residents joke around, total lock down will be imposed.

” I received a call from the minister last night,she told me she was going to send me a message to unlock Arua district remember in the last presidential briefing, the national task force unlocked Maracha, Koboko and Yumbe and the complain was how will all these districts access Kampala, allow me to read the exact message from them minister of health and general duties.

Re: reversal of lockdown of Arua district.

I am writing to you in relation to the lock down of Arua district as directed by the president, am pleased to inform you that the ministry of health has unlocked Moyo district base on the trend of the disease. We have reviewed ministry of health records,and confirm that there hasn’t been any secondary transmission in the district for the past two weeks. Based on this the minister has removed Arua district from lockdown. As you may recall, during the president’s address of 22nd June,2020, HE the president directed districts with evidence of community clusters and other high risk characteristics in the past two weeks should be maintained under movement restrictions in the next two weeks as we monitor the trend of the disease as follows:-

1 districts with potential clusters of infectious that are still under investigation such as Adjumani,Arua,Amur, Buyikwe, Busia, Gulu, Kayunga, Kyangwazi, Kyotera,Luwero, Moyo, Nebbi and Tororo.

2 Districts with refugees to allow time to test the refugees before the final decision is made that is Zombo, Arua and Adjumani

3 Districts with main border entry points that still need more comprehensive surveillance and testing and those wih water bodies and informal crossings accross water bodies such as Busia and Bulisa.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your district taskforce for your vigilance, commitment and for commentably implementing covid 19 prevention and metigation measures in your district. The ministry will continue to work very closely with you and your district team in this response. The purpose of this letter is to guide as above and also to inform your district taskforce and the population accordingly.

Yours faithfully.

Hon Nabaja Robina (MP)

State Minister of health and general duties.

Arua restriction has been removed that means buses and taxis have been allowed to movebut social distance must be observed, passengers must be checked properly so that we don’t smuggle people from foreign country particularly people who have crossed from Congo and Sudan to go to Kampala. So the bus operators and taxi operators must be very seriously that they check the national ID’s of the passengers before taking them or if any foreigner has just come you must confirm that he has just come,our border still remains closed and I want to emphasize that our status core remains the same, those other things like the bodaboda and the rest must be patient, government is doing these things systematically so in the next two weeks we may expect another announcement “Nahori quotions”.

However, the hospital director Arua regional referral hospital Dr Filbert Nyeko it is good news for the population but the residents must continue to observe the guidelines.

” In this region we have had up to 117 cases of Corona, we have transferred 51 from Adjumani, we have treated fifty six (56) in the referral hospital, and currently we have nine (9) in the case management centre. I want appreciate Mr chair today you have told us we can start moving,we can now have one or two people to rest and the rest continue caring for others,  it’s not small news though not all is open but my appeal to the community through my friends from the media is that,yes it’s open but it’s not 100% safe, we still have to be very carefull, physical distancing,use of madks, staying at home unless it is for you to go to town and not going to Kampala just for the sake because wherever we go now is not safe, we must learn to do that ”

The chairperson of Arua district Taxi operators cooperative Association Amin Musa explains that the issue of the transport fare needs discussion with the owners of the vehicles.

“All the guidelines and the quotions been issued by the Resident City Commissioner shall be considered but the issue of transport fare is abit challenging as most vechiles are going to take half the they used to carry and corpled with the fuel constraints like the small vehicles that have been taking four people will be taking two or three which means transport will have to double but we shall discuss”. If we charge the customers too high as they have been suffering the lockdown this will affect them badly and this may also affect our business but we are yet to sit down and agree, “Amin added”

Reactions from the public.

Denis Opio a taxi driver at Nebbi stage Arua taxi park says it is a good move by the government otherwise most of the drivers had lost their jobs and others have been killed as they attempted to still people’s property.

Muzamil Adriko a passenger says he is still in doubts as many things have remained the same like the transport fares have still remain higher and he has not felt any difference of been under lockdown.”Today they have unlocked, but what I know is the transport fare is likely to be high like 70,000/= to 90,000/= which is still not affordable to alocal person who has been under the Lockdown it means we are still under lockdown.”

Asiku Muphart a bodaboda man from Pacific stage near Nilale Star bus stage appreciates the government and however urges his colleagues to be patient as they wait more directives from the ministry of health.

Close to four months Arua district has been under total lockdown due to its proximity to the border with Democratic Republic of Congo and it being one of the districts with refugees which made it to be under lockdown.

The thirteen districts that have been permitted to operate public transport in the latest lot include Adjumani, ,Arua, Amur, Buyikwe, Busia, Gulu, Kayunga, Kyangwazi, Kyotera, Luwero, Moyo, Nebbi and Tororo. End