President Museveni had earlier announced the phased reopening of schools starting with the return of primary and secondary candidates as well as finalists in tertiary institutions.
However, addressing the nation on Monday, Museveni said Ugandan scientists advised that no proper risk assessment had been done on the reopening of schools.
“I had talked about opening schools after June 4, but we have further studied this with the scientists and the eventual decision was to delay. We have 1.4 million children in these candidate classes and finalists. We don’t have enough testing kits for testing those numbers every two weeks,” Museveni said.
He added that the country has the machines necessary to carry out testing, however, there are not enough reagents that are key in the testing.
“Even if we could test all the candidates and finalists, there is the issue of day scholars. Even for the boarding school, there are workers and the teacher who move to and from school. We have, therefore, decided that we shouldn’t bite too much at a time,” Museveni said.
Teachers in Kabale and the district task force was opposed to the reopening of schools, saying the danger was to grave because many schools and parents were not ready.
The president added that the reopening of private cars has already unleashed a big number of people into towns, and the last thing they need is to add on students.
He said that the government is considering providing two television sets for every village in the country or radio for every family so that students continue with digital and long-distance learning. He said cabinet had agreed that long-distance learning will be the new normal for Ugandan students.
Museveni further added that public transport can resume this Thursday, June 4, provided that the vehicles carry half their normal passenger capacity exclusive of the driver and the conductor. This time, however, the reopening is not tagged on the distribution of the free government facial masks as he said during his last address last month.
He said there was a delay in the distribution of the masks due to problems with the production. He however assured that the distribution will start on June 10, starting with border districts.
“If you don’t have the proper mask, stay home,” Museveni said. For boda bodas who have started agitating to resume carrying passengers, the president said, they should forget that for now until such a time when the disease is totally defeated.
“We can’t risk the lives of our people because of business…This is not the time to be polite; we can’t continue with this menace, the boda boda the least they can do, is keeping quiet until the disease is over,” Museveni said.
Museveni said his government has kept quiet for long about the menace created by boda bodas in the city. He said he learned that the boda bodas are owned by rich people, are insufficient and very big pollutants of the environment.
Further, Museveni instructed Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to demarcate three lanes on all city roads – one lane for boda bodas (motorcycles), one lane for vehicles and another lane for cycling. The president said at no time should vehicles, boda bodas or cyclists mix on while driving in the city. It remains to be seen how KCCA will be able to pull this off as many city roads are particularly narrow and sometimes used for parking by both private and public vehicles.
The president also allowed the reopening of shopping malls but not arcades on June 4, provided they too observe social distancing, wash hands regularly or use sanitizers. For the churches and mosques, the president said they should hang in a little more as the government observes the impact of reopening public and private transport. The airports, gyms, sauna, saloons also remain closed for another 21 days.
“We are not relaxing the lockdown because the danger has gone in fact, more Ugandans are getting sick,” Museveni said.
Meanwhile, the president revealed that he had discussed with the director of public prosecution and the attorney general to have the over 4,000 people who have been arrested and charged with disobeying lockdown orders to be freed from prison provided they don’t have any other serious cases against them.
On truck drivers, Museveni said despite Ugandans’ anger towards foreign truckers, Uganda will not lock them out until the railway and water transport have been sorted. Museveni said Ugandans have expressed anger towards truck drivers for trucking the virus into the country. He said the fact that many truckers are testing positive is a good sign that Uganda’s testing is working.