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PWDs accuse Luweero district task force of flouting COVID-19 guidelines

Mohammed Khatab the Centre Director for Direct Aid Society and Luweero District Leaders organising PWDs before donating food relief items to them. They were accused of not observing physical distancing

Luweero, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  Persons with Disabilities have accused the Luweero District COVID-19 Task Force of flouting guidelines and exposing them to the risk of contracting coronavirus disease.   

The outcry came up when People with Disabilities and Muslim clerics were invited for relief food to enable them sustain themselves during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown. They were transported to Kasana Playground in Luweero town using taxi’s and motorcycles to a handover ceremony presided over by Resident District Commissioner Phoebe Namulindwa on Thursday.   

About 260 families received 10 kilograms of rice, 10 kilograms of maize flour and three litres of cooking oil, each, donated by Direct Aid Society, a voluntary non-governmental organization whose activities target the neediest social groups.   

Mohammed Khatab, the Centre Director for Direct Aid Society in Luweero district said they targeted the PWDs because of their vulnerability and the Imams as a sign of appreciation for their services.    

But the handover ceremony was disrupted when Persons with Disabilities criticized the Luweero District COVID-19 Task Force officials for discrimination, flouting guidelines and exposing them to risks of contracting the coronavirus.   

Ramanzan Asaba, a Person Living with Disability observed that whereas President Yoweri Museveni banned all gatherings and encouraged them to observe physical distancing in the fight against the Coronavirus, they were transported in congested taxis and crowded in one place within the playground to wait for food.

Ivan Mbogo, the Chairperson of Persons Living with Disabilities in Kikyusa Sub county questioned why other people have been receiving aid at their homes but those with disabilities had to be transported to one place. Mbogo said the fuel cost for transporting PWDs from villages would be enough to do the same to deliver the aid to vulnerable persons or their leaders.   

Others complained that none among them was transported with a mask and in case any person had the virus many will be infected. The PWDs said the donation was not well-intended but to showcase in media that the vulnerable group was catered for.      

Policemen were deployed at the playground to stop uninvited people from grabbing the relief food but made no effort to enforce the guidelines.   But, Luweero District Kadhi Sheikh Ramadhan Mulindwa who lobbied the relief for Muslim clerics defended the gathering saying the donors wanted to ensure that the food relief reached the intended beneficiaries.    

The Chairperson of Luweero District Task Force on COVID 19 Phoebe Namulindwa regretted the incident.   President Yoweri Museveni stopped distribution of food through gatherings citing the risks associated with contracting coronavirus and stated that persons who will be found distributing food will be charged with attempted murder.

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