Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Dozens of small businesses around educational institutions have been hit by the lockdown because of the absence of students who form the bulk of their customer base.
The government ordered all learning institutions to close on March 20, 2020, as part of the measures to disrupt the spread of COVID-19, forcing millions of learners to return to their homes. However, this has taken a huge toll on businesses around the educational institutions, a number of which are now closing or relocating.
The affected businesses include among others, eateries, retail shops, salons, boutiques, supermarkets, stationery outlets and video libraries. Those that have stayed functional are on the edge.
Audrey Kukunda, the proprietor Velvet restaurant in Nakawa near Makerere University Business School (MUBS) says before the lockdown, she would serve over 100 customers which isn’t the case. She also reveals that some of the students would book for their meals for the entire semester.
Grace Manzi, the acting in charge of Chicken Tonight branch in Kansanga next to Kampala International University says she now relies on a few passersby. She however says they are no match to the droves of students that flocked her restaurant before lockdown.
Florence Nakayenga, the proprietor of Mission Beauty salon in Wandegeya says she closed in late July because she could not afford to pay rent and maintain saloon equipment in the absence of customers. Nakayenga now deals in general merchandise.
Hassan Osama Mubiru, who runs a printing and photocopying business opposite Akamwesi Hostel in Nakawa says his business took a fall since the students left the university. He says that some of his neighbors relocated to other areas where they can get clients while others closed shops saying they couldn’t afford rent and utility bills.
Elias Akampa, the acting general manager “The Grocery” in Wandegeya, says the absence of students led to uncountable loses of perishable goods, which saw him drop some staff.
Titus Obina, a retail trader opposite Kyambogo University main gate says although he is used to students going for holidays, he can’t count the losses he has registered in the lockdown.
Recently, Hope Katwiine, the vice-chairperson Kampala Traders Association-KACITA warned that several small scale businesses in and around Kampala may never reopen because of the impact of the lockdown. She explained that many traders have been spending on water, food, and rent at home even when they are not earning.