Police and traders clashed at Mbale Central Market this morning as security forces moved to enforce a directive to close it.
The Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Sulaiman Barasa Ogajo ordered for the closure of Mbale market on Monday, April 6, 2020.
Ogajo charged that the traders had failed to follow the Ministry of Health Standard Operating Procedures needed to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Among the SOPs are maintaining a distance of four metres from each other, washing hands with soap or sanitizers and where possible wearing face masks.
This morning, however, traders attempted to force their way into the market. The traders said that they depend on working daily to earn a living and the closure of the market would make them destitute and unable to look after their families and themselves.
Police was forced to fire teargas and live bullets in the air at the charged traders. The confrontation lasted at least an hour as the traders would retreat, regroup and attempt to march on the market again.
The traders eventually gave up after they realised that the deployment at the market would not be pulled back.
They were heard pleading that, “Let them forgive us. We need to work.”
They expressed fear that those with perishables would find them rotten and no longer saleable.
The regional police spokesperson Rogers Taitika said the market will remain closed unless new orders are issued by the Coronavirus Taskforce responsible.
He advised members of the public to do their shopping from decentralised markets closer to their homes that are still open.
He said, “People can go to Busamaga market, Bugwere market and others.”
Edited by David Tumusiime