Bars and clubs across the country are continuing to operate behind closed doors during day and night despite the ban by the government to curb the spread of
The government shut down bars and clubs in March last year on orders of President
Museveni to limit the spread of the contagion. Whereas the government has
reopened other businesses that were initially closed, the ban on operation of
bars and discotheques have never been lifted.
Within Kitgum Municipality, the majority of the bars have however been in full
operation since the ban and occasionally hosted dances and parties till
Uganda Radio Network-URN established that some of the bars that have been
openly operating are owned by security personnel attached to the President’s Office
and Uganda People’s Defence Force-UPDF.
Most notable are Icon bar and Gates Bar all in Central Division, less than a
kilometre from Kitgum Central Police station.
During the cause of our investigation in the evening and night hours, the two
bars have been filled with revellers who disregarded the Standard Operating
At some points, the management at Icon Bar also collected
gate fees for dances that went on in the evening till wee hours of the morning
uninterrupted despite patrols conducted by the Police and army.
Security personnel who spoke to URN on condition of anonymity reveals that they
have had challenges closing down the pubs for fear of sparking off fights among
the security personnel who intend to keep their businesses open.
He notes that the Pub owners, some of whom have been sensitizing the public on
radio stations about the SOPs but maintained their businesses to operate
frustrated their efforts to implement the government’s directives.
According to the source all the neighbouring bars and roadside shops selling
alcohol that had initially respected the ban started operating openly accusing
them of being bias.
Kitgum Resident District Commissioner William Komakech
acknowledged that there was laxity, especially during the election time to
conduct to enforce implementation of the directives.
“Election brought a lot of laxity, the election is over now and the implementation
He notes that there was a manpower shortage to conduct the
implementation of the directives since most personnel were deployed in all the
198 polling stations in the district during the election.
Komakech, however, says they have now begun fully implementing the directives
adding that curfew time has also been restored to limit night movements. He
notes that all the implicated bars have since complied.
But bar owners like James Onen, in Central Division, believes they have been
locked out of businesses for so long since last year and notes that it’s time
for the government to consider setting their ventures free.
“It’s coming to a year now that I haven’t been able to sell fully like I used
to do in the past, with schools being reopened, how will I be able to pay for
my children’s school fees,”? he asked.
In other parts of the country, the situation is not any different. Many pubs
are operating openly while others disguised as restaurants.
For instance, in Mukono Municipality, some bars are instead advertising their
businesses with banners indicating it’s a restaurant serving food. However
inside, there are varieties of alcohol.
The bars include Casablanca, De hive, Fish pond, Labamba, Summer
gardens, Terrace, and Resort bars which are flocked by locals.
Samson Nguubi, a resident in Mukono central division says big bars were guided by
law enforcers to change their face brand into restaurants to smoothly operate.
"We have only seen security operations targeting small bars
and the big ones left to work, but also those that manage to arrange simple
bribes are saved. In Seeta, police officers made it a routine to levy
bars." Nguubi notes.
In Kayunga and Buikwe districts, several small bars operate without being
bothered by security personnel during day time until 10 pm to midnight.
In Fort Portal Tourism City, especially places like Kisenyi Central Division,
customers who turn up to drink alcohol are locked inside bars to hide them away
from security personnel as they drink and party.
Festus Bandeeba, the Fort Portal Deputy Resident City Commissioner
says the crackdown on defiant bar owners have been on adding that they will not
For instance, he says that in December last year, they arrested 72 revellers at
Giraffe View Bar in Fort Portal and they were cautioned against flouting
“We also arrested the workers of the bar for some time so that they do not
repeat the same,” Bandeeba said.
In Soroti City, bars and clubs such as City Bar, Pentagon, Washington D.C in
Pamba Ward, and Skype Club in Otucopi, Soroti East Division, and Rhino Camp in Moru
Apesur ward are operating daily.
A boda-boda taxi operator who didn’t want to be named revealed that at Bisina
Inn, the management has been charging entry fees to its clients over the
// cue in “Pamba eyait ber…
Cue out…Rhino Camp”//
“…Fridays and Saturdays, the club charges 5,000 for entry. But other
days, they sell beer as they play music to the guests. You can drink and dance
Recently, President Museveni while addressing the nation hinted at the
possibility of reopening bar businesses but notes that the technical committee
on health was still studying it.
Kirinya Ayubu is the URN Bureau Chief of Elgon/Bukedi Sub Regions . He holds a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communication from Islamic University in Uganda and a Diploma in Computer Science and Information Technology from the same University.