KAMPALA – Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has described as ridiculous President Museveni’s “clumsily arranged press conferences” and the proposal that people can ride bicycles instead of using commuter taxis as a preventive measure against coronavirus.
The President, while addressing a press conference on Tuesday, March 24, his fourth in a week, suggested that people can ride bicycles to work but avoid commuter taxis because they increase chances of contact.
But Mr Lukwago said Mr Museveni’s proposals are too cosmetic given that Uganda has now registered nine cases of coronavirus.
“It’s about time the Chief Executive of our motherland scaled down on these clumsily arranged press conferences. The situation is dire and calls for more gravitas on the part of the head of state. Any reasonable Ugandan should be appalled by the proposal to substitute the existing mass transport with bicycles; spying on the unscrupulous business men, call them “crooks”, who’re hiking prices for foodstuffs and sanitizers or bringing the NRM cadres to mitigate and avert the crisis in the food sector etc,” he said.
“The critical issue to be considered by cabinet, Parliament, local leaders and everyone else is the question of sustainably keeping the 40 million Ugandans in their respective homes, in a country that barely survives on daily incomes and with no sound social security systems,” Mr Lukwago added.
Mr Lukwago’s remarks come on the backdrop of calls by four-time presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye that now is the time for the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to support its subscribers in the face of coronavirus pandemic.
According to Dr Besigye, NSSF should roll out a programme to pay out a portion of members’ savings to afford them vital support thru the COVID-19 crisis.
“It’s surprising that @nssfug hasn’t, as yet, rolled out a programme to pay out a portion of members’ savings to afford them vital support thru the #COVID19 crisis. Isn’t this what “Social Security”, a safety net, is about?,” he said on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
“This is members’ money; it’s not charity! They can pay only 10-20% of a member’s savings. If there’s any legal impediment for them to do so, Parliament can sit tomorrow and sort it out.
This is a world crisis of unprecedented proportions,” he added.
But NSSF has said that it has no legal basis upon which to make ad hoc payments to its members in the event of the coronavirus threat. The NSSF Managing Director, Mr Richard Byarugaba, said the Fund is a social security scheme, created to provide a safety net for members in case of old age or permanent incapacitation and making any emergency payments would require amending the existing law.
People Power Movement leader Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine also tasked government to institute necessary economic measures to help the ordinary Ugandans survive through the situation.
“In order to enable our people avoid cash transactions which aid in the transmission of #COVID19, government should scrap taxes on mobile money transactions so as to encourage the use of cashless transactions. The government of Uganda should also scrap the daily tax on the Internet in order to facilitate exchange of information, enable citizens receive updates from the Ministry of Health and WHO, etc. People should be encouraged to interact more online as opposed to meeting physically.”