IS COVID-19 PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN SAVING LIVES OF ALL UGANDANS AS ANTICIPATED? Pt 2

Majority of the people in lockdown lost their patience and no longer saw the essence of the preventive measure against the deadly virus.

 

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The cases in the country dropped tremendously, but those from outside worsened the situation because their well-being had already been affected. Some started risking their life’s by driving their private cars to the villages to look for food, others used boda bodas to go make ends meet. Some people preferred that they resume their businesses for survival, rather than wait for the country to stabilize as they die of hunger, because signs of stability were hijacked by the increasing cases of Covid-19 from neighboring countries. The President later promised to address the nation in regard to the cargo drivers’ issue in a bid to avoid more Covid-19 cases from outside the country.

 

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It is during the second phase of the lockdown that I discovered that everyone is affected, but some categories of people do not feel the pinch as much as the rest of the citizens in the country. The lockdown has made some groups of people more relaxed than ever before, while another group feels the effects of the lockdown are as deadly as the Covid-19 itself; and since they do not see any benefit in this preventive measure, they would rather go on with their businesses ‘if they die, they die’.

 

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All in all, the lockdown has been a blessing to a percentage of the people while to many ordinary Ugandans; it’s the curse after Covid-19 that brought all the suffering that they will live to tell their grandchildren in future, if they survive this pandemic. As some people’s only worry is missing going to church, having fun in bars, social gatherings, going to the public gym or sauna, and flying out of the country for holidays, others cannot even afford a meal, they have lost their jobs, cannot pay their rent and have to start from scratch if they survive the pandemic.

 

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Unfortunately, those who don’t find the lockdown so unbearable, may be the same people who can easily reach the President and advise him, or other authorities on what to do during this tough pandemic period; without necessarily looking at different faces of the situation, so that some people do not become victims of circumstances, because they deserve to be treated as fairly as possible just like the rest of the citizens.

 

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My hope is that this observation helps all concerned fighters at the helm of any challenge in society to identify appropriate approaches, fairly apply them and evaluate their performance at the end of it all. Whatever precautionary measures they put in place, whether derived from copy and paste of ideas from other countries, convenience or practicability of the available solutions. They MUST look at all types of people in the country and address their issues with consideration and prior knowledge of ‘death is death no matter what causes it’. If the lockdown is not handled well, with some reservations by studying all its possible positive and negative effects on the socio-economic and political aspects of everyone in the country, taking a more bold and fair decision, it may instead lead to more depression, homelessness, hunger, poverty, violence, hate robberies, discrimination, tribalism, nepotism, suicidal cases, unemployment…which may all lead to death that we are ‘locked down against’.

There are 3 types of people affected by the lockdown; ‘The Business as usual’, ‘the Honeymooners’ and ‘the Stranded. After all is done and said, if the effects of this measure imply that 80% of the citizens are happy with it, then there’s’ need to celebrate such a mile stone especially if we consider the fact that this pandemic is a new one on the globe and no one was prepared for it. However, if 80% of the citizens do not see any sense in the lockdown with  clear visible justifications, this can only mean ‘even if all the rooms are full, there’s is always one for improvement’,  maybe next time we can do better only if we learn from this new experience and take criticism positively.

Below is a summarized table that shows the 3 types of people in Uganda and how the ‘lockdown’ is treating them as a measure to fight against the spread of Covid-19;

 

GROUP              CATEGORY SITUATION
1.The Business as usual.     These are all kinds of people who are still working, earning a salary and getting different flavors of allowances due to the covid-19 pandemic.

·         Peasants who do not have to be affected by transport and any modern facilities. The have gardens, accommodation and most of the basic needs.

·         All those who provide/supply goods and services related to health problems and can move as long as they wish.

·         Those who are still working and are able to walk to work or ride a bike to their work places and earn a living.

·         They have means of transport or are entitled to official stickers to let them move out of their homes any time they wish either for work or for other personal errands. If there is a chance, they can supervise their other side projects.

·         Some of them own homes, those who don’t, can afford to pay rent because they are earning.

·         They are able to pay all their bills for both basic and luxury.

·         They can afford a mini-bar at home and can shop all the essentials in bulk to take them through a good period of time.

·         At home, their spouses and children are not starving, they can afford ‘home schooling facilities’, there’s internet at home, entertainment, a swimming pool, they do not need to walk for five miles to buy basic needs, they can get a bike, pickup or truck to pick for them anything from town or the village.

·         They can always get a way of transporting and taking care of their loved ones’ health emergencies no matter where they are located.

·         This is a time to bond with their family members through doing different activities together, especially when they are off duty.

·         Their way of living has not changed much apart from the fact that there’s Covid-19 in Uganda.

·         They can get proper food and drinks, sanitizers and anything that can help them go through this pandemic.

 

          In their world, the lockdown can as well take more months as long as the pandemic is still with us. It’s their duty to fight it and they are ready to do so. They don’t see any rush for the country to get back to business and the spread of the virus continues.

·         Happy that the air seems cleaner and people are more concerned about hygiene and healthy living.

·         Transport challenges for those who used to use public means, they find it hard and inconveniencing to walk to their work places every day since they do not own a bike or another acceptable means of transport.

·          Some have debts with financial institutions to clear yet their side incomes have been suspended.

·         Those with housing related businesses, are not sure if tenants will clear their bills in this season when most businesses have been affected.

·         Their children can now eat healthier food from home, they have ample time to relax, and play since they no longer go to school.

·         These people are more respected and relevant to the wellbeing of the society than ever before.

·         There’s less traffic on all roads which is a good thing for those on the road and fuel is cheaper.

·         Their only worry is contracting the virus from their work places and spreading it to their loved ones.

·         Some losses from side income businesses that have been closed due to the pandemic but they’re not directly affected because they are sure they will survive on their salaries and when the situation normalizes.

·         Some of them definitely miss their friends, church, going to the cinema for a movie or a football match, hanging out with friends at bars and concerts plus travelling abroad for holidays. However, this helps them save the money they would have spent on those activities.

·         Worries related to robbery from those who have no way of survival

 

 

2.The Honeymooners ·         They are not working but are earning their salaries and allowances as expected.

·         They are saving money for fuel, transport and other work-related costs since they stay home.

·         They are able to send money to their loved ones in need from any part of the country.

·         They are using the time to relax, take a nap and rest from the hectic everyday jobs of 8-5pm. They can even send someone else to do for them shopping for the home.

·         Some of them own homes, those who don’t, can afford to pay rent since they are still earning a salary.

·         They can afford internet to do some of their work at home as they earn from it.

·         They are reading motivational books, newspapers and inspirational articles to improve their knowledge.

·         Their time to bond with their family members and loved ones through doing different activities together.

·         Time to learn new skills like computer programs, languages, cookery among others.

·         Time to concentrate on their projects or academic projects like research, which can be one on computer.

·         Some of them have bikes, motorcycles and trucks that can help them do the shopping from any part of the country.

·         They can supervise their other side projects like construction, poultry, farming among others without the inconveniences of their main jobs.

·         They are able to clear all their bills, get proper food and drinks, sanitizers and anything that can help them go through this pandemic including luxury.

·         This is their time to catch up with friends on phone or online.

 

·         In their world, the lockdown can as well take more months as long as the pandemic is still with us. They do not want to go back to work if it is not safe for them.

·          Happy that the air seems cleaner and people are more concerned about hygiene and healthy living.

·         There’s less traffic on all roads, the world is now quiet and calm.

·         Some have benefited from being home with their family members every day, have improved their relationships and others have turned out to be violent and quarrelsome since they are not used to sitting at home for such a long time and some behaviors are new to them.

·         Some have Bank loans to clear yet their side incomes have been suspended.

·         Those with housing related businesses, are not sure if tenants will clear their bills in this season when most businesses have been affected.

·         Some of their side income businesses have been closed due to the pandemic but they’re not directly affected because they are sure they will recover when business gets back to normal in the country.

·         Some of them definitely miss their friends, church, going to the cinema for a movie or a football match, hanging out with friends at bars and concerts plus travelling abroad for holidays. However, this helps them save the money they would have spent on those activities.

·         Worries related to robbery from those who have no way of survival

 

3.The stranded ·         All businesses that were suspended and employers and employees are not certain of their recovery.

·         These are people who only earn daily income and the day they work is the day they earn either hourly or daily but there work no longer exists because it belongs the businesses that were suspended during the lockdown. Most of these people are casual workers who live by hand-to-mouth.

·         All those whose positions at work have been rendered ‘redundant’, so they are home and are not sure if business will resume after the pandemic.

·         Those who cannot even afford a meal because they are not working but waiting for resumption of work when the lockdown ends.

·         Those who can’t clear Bank loans, rent and can no longer fend for their families because this was an abrupt pandemic that found them unprepared, most of them risk being imprisoned or losing the few properties they have. As the lockdown days go by, the debts keep accumulating and they will still be expected to clear without fail.

·         All those who would have shifted back to their villages for survival during the abrupt lockdown but they couldn’t due to lack of transport.

·         Those who cannot find easier means of transport for health emergencies yet they cannot easily get permission from the RDCs.

·         Majority are not sure of their survival as they cannot even afford to pay rent yet they can’t move back to their villages.

·         Hunger because majority are daily income earners whose businesses have been suspended.

·         No other side businesses to keep them moving forward as they hope for the situation to normalize.

·         Inability to clear outstanding debts since they are not expecting any income soon.

·         Depression, tension, stress

·         Structural and industrial unemployment and frustration which can lead to mental disorders

·         Hopelessness

·         Drug and alcohol abuse

·         Violence especially in towns

·         Low self-esteem

·         Poverty and inability to take care of families due to lack of income

·         Some people have resorted to committing crimes like domestic violence caused by different factors related to behavior and financial issues

·         High crime rates of robbery cases in a bid to find something to eat.

·         Their future is not certain at all as their survival is not favored by Covid-19 uncertainties.

·         In their situation, the lockdown is more dangerous and deadly than getting worried of Covid-19 as they go on with their businesses, for those who haven’t been totally laid off from work. They would rather continue working as they observe sanitation measures as directed by MOH and the President.

 

The above summary, helps to give the impact of Covid-19 lockdown to Ugandans in their psycho-socio and economic state. To understand it further, let me provide a scenario with questions that can put this situation in a clearer context, because majority of Ugandans can relate to it if they look at it objectively. Hopefully, someone will further share their findings after this analysis to help all other institutions provide practical solutions to existing and future societal concerns that apply to our context.

SCENARIO

Peter married Clare in 2000 immediately after pursuing a Degree in Medicine. They work in one of the government hospitals in Kampala. They were lucky to get free accommodation as a benefit from the hospital. They now have 5 children who all go to school and 4 family dependents at home plus one shamba boy and a maid. Their salary is fairly good as they can afford to take care of themselves and clear the necessary bills.

 

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Because Clare has always had a passion for beauty, fashion and design, in 2005, she got a salary loan to start up a boutique for men and women clothes plus a section of a Unisex Salon with manicure and pedicure services. She rented a big room on one of the City Arcades at 1000,000 shillings. She employed a manager and 6 people who would earn income on a daily basis depending on the sales, and the manager was earning 500,000 shillings per month. During her free time, she would bake cakes and make decorations for those who would have parties, this would give her extra income. In 2010, the husband also got a salary loan and managed to buy land and put up 6 units of rentals near town before building a family house around the city. He managed to get tenants who would pay him 350,000 shillings per month. Their businesses were growing slowly but steadily as they were able to pay their employees and cater for the family. From the profits Peter and Clare got, managed to purchase a second hand RAV4 car to help them move from one point to another in order to run and supervise their businesses whenever they got a chance. In 2015, they rented another house on Entebbe Road and started up a Hardware shop. They employed 2 people who were earning 400,000 and 550,000 shillings respectively. Last year in January, they ventured into farming in the village and started a poultry farm, piggery and had a few goats. They employed 4 people to take care of the businesses who all depend on their money. This only becomes possible if there is a continuous flow of income from one business to another.

Looking at Peter and Clare’s life, they are doing well in terms of investment. Unfortunately, apart from their job at hospital, rentals (which is uncertain, since tenants are also affected) and the farming that may only continue if there is money to keep it running and there are buyers for chicken, eggs and animals in order to make some profit. All the other businesses in rented houses have been closed for over a month due to Covid-19 lockdown. Worse still, all their dependents and employees are affected and in the whole equation, very few will recover from this situation.

QUESTIONS;

1.Discuss the psycho-socio and economic impact of Covid-19 lockdown as a measure to prevent the spread of the virus in in Uganda in the life of;

a) Peter and Clare in relation to their wellbeing and investments

b) Their employees and their families or dependents

2.What are the profit margin and losses of Peter and Clare’s investments since 2020 started?

a) What can the government do better to save the whole situation during and after a pandemic in the lives of people in Peter and Clare’s situation?

b) How can every citizen prepare themselves better for such a situation in future?

c) Describe the psycho-socio and economic state of an employer or employee whose business has been closed due to Covid-19 pandemic and there is no other side income generating activities.

d) What lessons do we learn from such a pandemic and how do we move forward with a positive mind?

 

  • The challenges today can open doors for greater opportunities tomorrow to only those who are prepared!
  • The biggest room in life is the room for improvement! We can always learn, unlearn and re-learn!

The writer is a lecturer of the French language and Linguistics in Uganda.

Click this link for part 1 of this article: http://www.afrikanheritage.com/is-covid-19-pandemic-lockdown-saving-lives-of-all-ugandans-as-anticipated-pt-1/

 

Author: Admin

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