KAMPALA–Walking down the Old Taxi Park, ampoule the popular business during lunch hour is food vending. When this reporter visited the taxi park on Thursday, he saw scores of young women moving up and down, vending food on plastic plates, selling it to the taxi drivers, conductors and passengers.
The food sold includes local food, posho, beans, matooke, fish and beef. After traversing the entire place, I noted that the city centre was not safe. Any time, the city administration should expect the outbreak of cholera or typhoid, as it happened two years.
The poor hygiene is evident in the area where food is being prepared. I witnessed plates being washed using contaminated water from Nakivubo channel.
To my surprise, the food is on high demand. Asked why they buy food sold in poor hygiene, one Makumbi, a taxi driver blamed the situation on poverty.
“I would have wanted to have lunch in hotels but I cannot afford. I have to save the little I earn to fend for my family. I also see the dangers of eating this food, but I have no option,” Mukiibi says.
Edward Ssentongo, the manager of the taxi park, says they are aware of the problem and have reported the matter to KCCA.
“We are fighting hard not to be hit by Chorela and Typhoid. We told KCCA officials to evict these food vendors. I don’t know why they are reluctant,” Ssentongo explains.
Other managers say food vending is booming because some KCCA officials permit vendors to sell it at the taxi park.
But medics say this is wrong, adding that the taxi park needs to be protected.
In 2015, the Ministry of Health and KCCA confirmed an outbreak of typhoid in Kampala and some parts of neighbouring districts of Wakiso and Mukono.
The investigations were carried out when the strange disease attacked individuals at the Old Taxi park Qualicel and Nabukeera Plaza, city centre.
The Health ministry at that time that confirmed two people died of typhoid. Ssentongo predicts that before October, cholera will strike again.
“Unboiled bottle water is being sold here. And it’s hard to block its distribution. We want more enforcement from KCCA,” he notes.
Causes of typhoid
Medics say the main cause of the typhoid is drinking contaminated water and cold food.
“This is why it’s advisable to boil your drinking water at home. It’s dangerous to just drink from any place. Some boil it half way, trying to save the charcoal or electric power,” Dr Andrew Bukenya advises.
Bukenya also advises the public to wash the vegetables and fruits before eating them. Other ways of curbing the disease, medics say is by reporting all those with symptoms at nearby health centres.
Another epidemic disease likely to strike again because of poor hygiene at the taxi park is Cholera.
Medics say Cholera is an infectious disease that causes water diarrhea, leading to dehydration and if not treated well can lead to death. It is also caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with a bacterium.
In 1998, Cholera hit Kampala city during the mayoral race, claiming very many city dwellers. The incumbent mayor Christopher Iga lost to Nasser Ntege Sebaggala.
Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, the current political leader of the city is also worried of the poor hygiene in the city.
He blames Kampala minister Beti Kamya and the city executive director Jennifer Musisi for failure to lobby funds from the central government to keep the city clean.
“And they also made a mistake to tender the cleaning business to the private firms, which are after making profits. We bought trucks but I don’t why we hired these firms,” Lukwago asks.
In 2015, Cholera outbreak was reported in Uganda’s south western district of Hoima, claiming six people and leaving 130 others hospitalised.
Efforts are being made by KCCA law enforcement officials to eliminate food vending in the city as well as close local restaurants which don’t meet health standards.
KCCA officials also say they arrest business owners and take them to court to be fined.
KCCA, according to officials, is encouraging city dwellers to get involved through the campaign called ‘Keep Kampala Clean.’
The exercise is done in the five city divisions. Kigali was the first city in East Africa to introduce this campaign. During the exercise dwellers are urged to clean up their areas, drainage system, to avoid problems associated with floods.