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Moroto COVID19 Task force Reverses Decision to Close Settlement Camp

Andrew Napajja, the Moroto District LC V Chairperson noted that disbandment of the settlement was done with rush and negligence. He argues that the lockdown announced by the president didn’t mean closing settlements but ensuring that the community complies with the COVID19 preventive measures.

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The Moroto District COVID19 Taskforce has repealed an earlier decision by Uganda People’s Defense Force-UPDF to close a settlement camp hosting nearly 600 artisan miners at Nakabaat gold mining site in Rupa Sub County.

It was the unanimous decision of the Taskforce Chaired by Moroto Resident District Commissioner; Peter Ken Lochap that it was unfair and inhumane to close the settlement in the face of the COVID19 lockdown rendering most artisan miners homeless.

The taskforce however resolved that the artisans will first be screened before they are allowed to resettle in their makeshift houses. Andrew Napajja, the Moroto District LC V Chairperson noted that disbandment of the settlement was done with rush and negligence.  

He argues that the lockdown announced by the president didn’t mean closing settlements but ensuring that the community complies with the COVID19 preventive measures.

  

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A circular issued by the Health Ministry requires all mining companies to set up a screening and isolation centers, hand washing facilitates and observe social distancing of four meters or else the site be closed.

However, the decision to reverse the decision to close the settlement camp has drawn strong criticism from UPDF, which is involved in enforcing the COVID19 prevention measures.  

Ba Tuhaire, the 3rd Division Operations Commander, says the decision to allow the artisan miners resettle at the camp before the lock down is lifted compromises the fight against the corona virus. He says the settlement lacks access to clean water to maintain hand washing and proper hygiene.

Gerald Eneku, the Karamoja Mineral Inspector, says the decision to allow the miners to return to the settlement camp in total disregard of COVID-19 preventive measures is wrong. “It doesn’t comply with the recent guidelines on how mining companies and mining sites should respond to the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

 

Eneku explained that all mining sites have been guided by the ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to development, in a recent circular to ensure the guidelines on prevention of the pandemic are fully observed. Milton Ddumba, the Mt. Moroto Regional Intelligence Security Officer also noted that it was unfair to disperse a vulnerable community without giving them an alternative place to settle. 

Uganda Radio Network has since established that the settlement camps access water from a river located about 5 kilometers away. Local leaders argue that the water is fit for consumption because it is distilled well.  The UPDF detachment at the site transports water form Moroto town.

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