Opinion: Open letter to the High-Level Task Force Committee on Coronavirus

By Wani Michael: Dear Dr. Riek Machar and the High Level Taskforce on Coronavirus.

April 28, 2020 (Thessherald)–I would like to appreciate your team for always considering the public opinions and ideas of different concerned citizens and sometime acted on those issues raised by them and at the same spirit, I would like to encourage your team to continue with the vigorous public engagements on the fight on Covid-19.

However, I have some SERIOUS CONCERNS on some critical FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES that need your attention for quick ACTIONS;

  • URGENTLY CONSIDER ADDRESSING THE ISSUES OF FARMERS.

The High Level Taskforce Committee on Coronavirus should urgently consider including AGRICULTURAL INPUTS and SUPPLIES to the list of ESSENTIAL GOODS that MUST remain accessible during the Covid-19 period. The rainy season is here and we need to depend on our farmers for the next period for door supply. Without keeping the shops selling agricultural tools open, these farmers can not produce food and we will be facing hunger in the coming period.

Government should work with partners to supply these farmers with seeds and other support including tractors.

Most importantly, the Minister of Agriculture Hon. Josephine Lagu should urgently develop an ACTION PLAN on Government SUPPORT to REVIVE the agricultural sector.

  • SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS and OTHERS continue to DISRESPECT AND DISOBEYING THE PRESIDENTIAL ORDERS ON COVID-19.

Every single day your Ministers and other government officials are busy disrespecting and disobeying the Presidential orders on Covid-19 with impunity and showing bad example to the public. Painfully, these Ministers and government officials are risking hundreds of innocent lives of your citizens. We saw a huge crowd at the official opening of the repaired Juba bridge under the watch of Minster of Roads and Bridges. Some SPLM-IO defectors and other leaders seen holding press conference without practicing social distancing and other Covid-19 preventive measures. Public gatherings including funerals led by senior government officials.

It is time, the TASKFORCE hold these leaders ACCOUNTABLE and FACE DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS. As you guys continue to deploy police officers and other security forces to brutalized us. The Ministers and other government officials are busy disobeying these orders, THERE IS NOBODY ABOVE THE LAW.

  • ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF TRUCK DRIVERS CROSSING BORDERS.

Recently, Uganda government recorded 11 new cases of Covid-19 in one single day and all of them were Truck drivers at different border points most likely heading to Juba via Nimule. We even read from your official communication that one of the truck diver who tested positive for Covid-19 in Uganda came to Juba via Nimule and returned back to Uganda. Given the fact that our traffic police continue to stop and interact with these truck drivers without any preventive measures put in place. As you guys know, we lack the proper tracking system of these drivers once they get tested for Covid-19 at the border point.

I also understand that EAC is designing a clear mechanism on how to address this issue of truck drivers crossing borders to ensure that local communities and the citizens are safe. However, it is important the TASKFORCE consider designing clear mechanism that fit our context and the situation on the ground.

As a matter of URGENCY, The TASKFORCE should consider addressing the issue of TRUCK DRIVERS crossing borders and the TRAFFIC POLICE.

  • MONITOR and PUNISH BAR OWNERS AND GOERS WHO CONTINUE TO OPERATE AND RISK THE LIVES OF PEOPLE.

It has come to our notice that some bar owners and operators are still illegally operating and risking the lives of innocent citizens. The committee should urgently consider a clear mechanism of implementing these orders by providing clear reporting channels to the respective security apparatus by the public. The Police and other security forces should speed-up their intelligence and surveillance on these bars. Arrest those found drinking and PUNISH the bar owner.

Some of these bars look like closed place but inside you’ll find young people busy drinking and risking innocent lives.

  • ISSUE OF TRAFFIC POLICE WITHOUT PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENTS.

The Traffic Police continue to interact with different drivers or goers on the road on daily basis. They used their bare hands without any protective measures put in place to touch vehicles license, driving permit and other documents. These Traffic Police will go back to their families and risk their own families and those they interact with on daily basis. It is important that the TASKFORCE consider addressing this issue urgently and give clear instructions to the Traffic Police.

It is my hope that these concerns will reach to your office and the HIGH LEVEL TASKFORCE ON CORONAVIRUS.

The Author, Mr. Wani Michael, is the Executive Director of Okay Africa Foundation and he can be reached via his email at ariechemmanuel2015@gmail.com

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