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Market vendors in Gulu, LOP defy Covid-19 guidelines

Vendors gather around Betty Aol Ocan. Photo by Emmy Daniel Ojara

Gulu, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  Hundreds of Olailong market vendors in Layibi-Bardege Division in Gulu City on Friday defied the Ministry of Health`s guidelines on Covid-19 following a visit by Betty Aol Ocan, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament.  

Aol who is also the Gulu district Woman Member of Parliament had paid a visit in the market to launch the distribution of learning materials to nursery pupils. 

Olailong Market is the third-largest market in Gulu City after Cereleno and Gulu Main Market.  

The meeting started well with the vendors observing physical distancing as they listened to Aol’s speech. 

It, however, turned rowdy when Aol disclosed that she had come with one million shillings to give to the vendors as seed capital.  

She said that she will hand over the money to Concy Odokorach who was delegated by the market chairperson to welcome the LOP. However, this drew protests from the vendors who cited mistrust.  

The more than one hundred vendors who were not wearing face masks demanded that the money be handed over to the different sections of the market.  They charged from their different stalls towards the LOP and Odokorach and rounded them up.   

It took several minutes for Odokorach and the LOP to convince the vendors to return to their seats and allow the LOP hand over the money to Odokorach.  

The vendors later agreed that the money is handed over to Odokorach.  Dozens of the vendors headed by Odokorach later marched with the Aol through the market. 

Aol said that she had brought two boxes of soap and a water tank to ensure that the vendors observe the Ministry of Health guidelines combat the spread of Covid-19. 

She added that she also used the opportunity to consult the vendors on her intention to contest for the Gulu City Woman Member of Parliament seat in 2021.   

One of the vendors, Ruth Aber said that it was risky for the LOP to gather the crowd at this time when the world is faced with Covid-19.   

Another vendor who spoke on condition of anonymity also criticized the LOP for her recklessness by not observing social distancing and failing to emphasize wearing of face masks yet Gulu is registering community cases of Covid-19.

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