The president of Uganda, President Yoweri K Museveni addressed the nation once more about the state of the country in regards to Coronavirus. Here are some of the major take away points in this latest speech by the president of Uganda
“We have defeated the locusts, we shall defeat coronavirus, we shall defeat the floating island. I really want to congratulate all of you Ugandans.”
Shading light on other battles Uganda has got amidst the Coronavirus scourge
“We have killed the locusts,” says Museveni. Since much of our recent attention has been driven towards the coronavirus, that Ugandans have quickly forgot that we were in a different fight before the arrival of the marauding virus. “Remember the desert locusts that invaded Uganda?” asked the president “We have killed the locusts,” says Museveni.
The President was keen to say that the UPDF has been busy snuffing them out. The tactic, he says, was to attack them from the ground as opposed to an aerial strategy, which has worked. “We are strengthening our capacity. I congratulate the UPDF for moving and reaffirming our culture of serving our people using innovation and dedication.”
Museveni warns lake encroachers
The president’s speech came at the time when Ugandans living on the shores of several lakes like Victoria Kyoga and Albert are battling not only with Coronavirus but also the ever increasing water levels of these lakes given the heavy rains that the country is receiving at this time. This forced the President to deliver a stern warning to these people saying. “Please get off, NEMA is coming for you!”
Before his speech, the president had visited Nalubaale dam in Jinja earlier today, where he was informed that the water level of Lake Victoria has risen to 13.21 metres. This is the second-highest since May 1964 – when the lake went up to 13.41.
“The Bazukulu have not seen this before. It first happened in 1964.” Said Museveni. The president took photos of himself at the lake shore at Kituburu and in Jinja which he shared on his social media platforms to help the Bazukulu see what he was exactly talking about and for future generations to see as well.
The president’s visit to Jinja was as a result of a potential threat faced by the electricity dam caused by the floating island which had forced the dam operators to shut it down for the greater part of the day as they mounted efforts to remove it.
The shutdown of the dam caused a nationwide power blackout. However, by the time of the president’s nation address, power had been restored. During his speech, Museveni thanked the engineers for working around the clock to solve the problem.
He says they found crops on the floating mass, meaning it had been encroached on.
How to handle burial of potential dead bodies of Coronavirus victims
On burying the coronavirus dead. The President says that anybody who has died of the coronavirus “must be buried where they have died”. This issue got the president’s attention given the fact that there are some Ugandans who have died from abroad although Uganda has not registered any COVID-19-related death within its boundaries. The relatives of these fallen victims to Coronavirus wished to have dead bodies of these people flown back from abroad for a proper burial but the president said that was not going to be possible because the body needs to be buried quickly and by experts given the how easy the virus can spread from the corpse to the people around it.
So far, 55 people have been tested positive for the virus in Uganda, with 28 discharged after successful treatment.
Boda bodas can stay on the road until 5pm
The restriction of boda bodas (strictly carrying cargo) on being on the road has been revised. Initially, they were required to be off the road by 2pm. “Later, we realised that 2pm is too early,” says the President. As such, the guidelines have been revised to allow them go on until 5pm.
‘Sorry I could not stop to greet you’
The President apologises for not stopping to greet the locals on his way to Jinja to check on the damage caused by the floating island at Nalubale Bridge. He explains he was only sticking to the guidelines of social distancing and so did not want to draw crowds, who were eager to see him stop to greet them.
He also mentions that his car hit a he-goat along the way although he wasn’t sure whether it had died on survived. the president said he did not stop to ascertain the matter, so he has directed the DISO of the area to get in touch with his team to have the owner of the goat compensated.
Fresh reports indicate that the owner of the got has been identified as one Rashid Ssemwanga and he has been brought to Nakasero state lodge where he has been duly compensated with Ugx.800000 for his goat. It should be noted that the he got commonly known as “mayor” by the locals in that area didn’t suffer any major injuries
At the time of his address, the president had been reliably informed that some traders in the urban and suburban areas were hoarding food supplies in order to increase the prices for several food items.
This angered him and he said that once he gets wind of suppliers hoarding food in the hope of making profits later, he will import the food instead.
“I don’t like selfish people. If I hear that there is not enough maize or beans because people are hoarding from the market, then I will import – and forget about you, because you are crooks, and your food will rot. said the President
“So please, no games!” he warns.
On motorists flouting lockdown guidelines
“Those vehicles will be confiscated,” warns the President. His warning came after he had received reports that some private cars had resorted to carrying passengers
‘Scientists should be paid well’
“I want to thank and congratulate our health workers,” says Museveni.
“They have done a wonderful job. They were not well prepared, but with the little they got, they managed to treat the 55 coronavirus-positive patients. And the consequence: no death.” In the same spirit, he also thanks the scientists, whom he says have managed to sequence the strain of the virus in Uganda to get a better understanding of what we are dealing with.
Museveni rallies bureaucrats to “pay the scientists well (…) because scientists have practical solutions” to such problems.
The president even joked that when he visited the Nalubaale dam in Jinja, he only saw engineers there battling with the floating island problem. He further added that he didn’t see any literature scholars there reading a Shakespeare poem to island to go away.
“These scientists should be paid well,” says Museveni, emphasizing that his position has always been to prioritise scientists over other disciplines.
Dispersal as a survival technique ‘is not new’
The President says that in the fight against coronavirus, “the technique of dispersal, once you know that characteristics of the disease, is not new”.
He turns back the hands of time to the 19th century to illustrate this. “In 1893, there was an outbreak of smallpox. Our ancestors quickly learnt that technique of ‘Do not concentrate’… and it worked for them.”
Food not fit for human consumption should be withdrawn
Away from the tracking system, As the president’s speech neared its end he started taking questions that had been raised by Ugandans to some of the national COVID-19 task force delegates that were present in this address to the nation.
“Some of these donations are not certified, especially the maize flour,” she says, she therefore suggested that the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) should take samples of every food donation and test for quality.
In response, the President says that that move would instead create more costs for UNBS. He suggests that if the food is found to be not fit for human consumption, it should be withdrawn.
On this, the head of the donations fund, minister Mary Karooro Okurut (general duties), clarifies that so far, all but one of the food packages that have come from well-wishers has passed the quality test.
She says there are UNBS officials at the store where the donated food is collected, who check the foodstuff for quality.
Minister Amelia Kyambadde, took this opportunity to clarify on the issue that is causing alarm among the general population. This issue is in relation to the possibility of track drivers who go to neighbouring countries like Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan and Rwanda which have declared many more Coronavirus patients that Uganda posing a threat of bringing the virus to Ugandans unintentionally.
The minister said that if a driver makes a stop-over along the way, the taskforce of that particular area should be alerted to ensure that that motorist does not last more than 15 minutes in repose to avoid his potentially spread the virus, if any.
“So, we have taken precautions in that area.” – Minister Kyambadde said
President Museveni also pointed out that as the current chairperson of the East African Community (EAC), President Paul Kagame got the health ministers of member states to meet virtually and agree on common guidelines on the coronavirus fight, says the President.
On the issue of cargo drivers being kept at the borders until their coronavirus test results are out.
“If you say that the current 800 truck drivers [who make it through the borders] stay at the border, it will interfere with business,” says Museveni. “The economy should move, but move without the disease spreading.”
It takes 24 hours for the coronavirus results to return.
The President reasons that since the public is aware of the measures in place to curb the spread of the virus and that the driver would also be assumed to be keen on protecting himself, then he should be allowed to move on.
“Delaying him will incur costs – to his boss(es),” says Museveni, adding that if he is found to be COVID-19-positive, he can be tracked.
Gov’t injects sh200bn into COVID-19 efforts
The government has injected sh200bn into the COVID-19, says President Museveni, adding that the donations, which we are told amount to sh4.5bn, is a god addition to the coronavirus fight.
Next up, Museveni reads the latest donations to the COVID-19 relief efforts. It is a very long list, by the way.
While reading the donations, the President quips by insisting on his wishes to see more donations of cars on list and he wants them in 4X4 pickup form and brand new.
He has previously reiterated how he wants to build a fleet of vehicles to help both in the short term (coronavirus fight) and in the long term, where he wants each district to have 10 vehicles for operations.
The president ended his speech by appreciating the generosity of each and every donor.
A summary of the latest testing stats issued by the health ministry are as follows:
- 1,126 samples tested negative for COVID-19
- 837 samples were from truck drivers at border points
- 289 samples were from individuals under institutional quarantine and contacts to confirmed cases
- Confirmed cases of COVID-19 stand at 55 in Uganda
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