Cabinet has directed the National Taskforce on Covid-19 to review the remaining standard operating procedures (SOPs) with an aim of lifting the 9pm curfew.
Sources say that in a special Cabinet meeting last week, most of the ministers requested President Museveni to lift the curfew and open the economy since the infections were under control.
When this matter came up in Parliament yesterday, the Chief Whip, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, confirmed that a special Cabinet sitting last week directed the taskforce on Covid-19 to review the remaining prevention measures, including curfew.
“Last week, Cabinet decided that the national task force sits and reviews all those SOPs. The matter is very important, the private sector is crying and including us the MPs. You leave here thinking about the curfew and yet you have work to do,” Ms Nankabirwa said.
The calls to lift the curfew came a year after the country was put under total lockdown over the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
During yesterday’s session, lawmakers asked the government to lift curfew and also open sections of the economy that have remained closed.
Government in September opened schools and other businesses such as salons, betting shops, saunas, among others but maintained the closure of bars and discotheques.
The curfew from 9pm to 5:30am was maintained while that of boda boda riders was maintained at 6pm.
Some boda boda riders, especially in the city and other urban areas, continue to abuse the 6pm curfew.
The MPs yesterday argued that with the economy almost back to normal, there is no need to keep the curfew and continuous closure of some businesses.
The calls to lift curfew, however, come at a time when Kenya is currently experiencing a spike in Covid-19 cases. Ministry of Health officials have also talked of “calm before the storm”. This is reference to the second wave of Covid-19 infections expected to hit the country.
Raising on a matter of national importance, Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya said the security operatives have taken it upon themselves to intimidate the people caught on the wrong side of the curfew and extort money from them if they are to be left to go.
“Ugandans are crying silently. Money is being extorted from them. The people who are suffering most are the boda boda people. Their motorcycles are impounded but to get it back they are asked to pay Shs50,000 which they cannot work in a day. Why can’t this curfew be removed?” Mr Olanya asked.
Kumi Municipality MP Silas Aogon argued that with many Ugandans facing economic hardships due to closure of businesses, Uganda should learn from the ban of maize export to Kenya to open up the economy because that incident is sending more people into poverty as there are limited alternatives.
He said other businesses they would opt for can be carried out in the night, especially in towns but curfew gives them no chance.
“It is time for us to recover. There is no need for meetings. Allow Ugandans to trade because we are doing badly. Open the country so that we can trade,” he said.
For the Muslim community preparing for the second Holy Month of Ramadan since the outbreak of Covid-19, there were also appeals to extend the curfew to at least 11pm to allow believers participate in all prayers.
Parliamentary Imam and Kawempe South MP Latif Ssebaggala said much as the last year’s fasting period passed when the world was under lockdown, the next month of Ramadan comes at a time when there is some relief in the country.
By yesterday, Uganda had a total of 40,490 cumulative Covid-19 positive cases with 334 deaths recorded. The government last week opened up schools for more classes.