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Outdoor Community Radios Resurface After Ban on Public Gatherings

Ibrahim Kitenda, the Ngandu local council-LCI chairperson in Nama sub county Mukono district says covid-19 preventive measures came abruptly leaving them without any option other than buying megaphones to sensitize residents about their roles in the fight against the virus.
28 Mar 2020 16:16
Fredrick Ssebina, the Mukono Municipality Covid-19 Disease Survaillance Officer addressing residents of Nabuti using a movable megaphone.

Audio 2

Communities in Mukono have revived the use of outdoor megaphone radios, following the ban on public gatherings. The radios had been banned by the Uganda Communications Commission, for allegedly flouting broadcasting regulations and causing noise pollution. 

But the megaphones have resurfaced, this time coming as a solution to the ban on public gatherings announced by president Yoweri Museveni, as one of the measures to encourage social distancing and control the spread of Coronavirus. 

In Mukono district alone, about 15 outdoor community radios have been opened up in various trading centres. They are used by religious leaders to convey mass and other gospel related programs and health information. Majority of the local council chairpersons also use mobile megaphones to sensitize residents about the need of implementing the Ministry of Health-MoH guidelines to stop the spread of corona virus. 

Ibrahim Kitenda, the Ngandu local council chairperson in Nama Sub County Mukono district says COVID-19 preventive measures came abruptly leaving them without any option other than using megaphones to sensitize residents about their roles in the fight against the virus. 

“Many people tune in to radio’s but sometimes they implement orders after we have re-emphasized. Currently the only way to reach out to them is by using outdoor community radios,” Kitenda notes.

Although section 26(1) of UCC Act 2013 prohibits installation or any operation of a television station, radio station, or any related broadcasting apparatus without a license, the Mukono Chief Administrative Officer-CAO James Nkata notes the situation shall come back to normal after the virus is stopped.

Michael Mugooli, a resident at Nabuti in Mukono Central Division agrees that megaphones are important but at the same time disagree with operators who use them during resting hours.  

//Cue in; “Once the born… 

Cue out…the radio station.”//   

Luganda //Cue in; “Muyige enkozesa ya… 

Cue out…nakulekanyiza bantu.”// 

Meanwhile, the use of social networks platforms has also picked during this period. Starting from churches, local government units and districts covid-19 task forces, they are all using channels such as WhatsApp and Facebook to pass on massages.