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Wednesday,September 23,2020 10:05 AM

Old Park will never be the same again

By Titus Kakembo

Added 10th May 2020 08:53 AM

All that is left are tomb stone-like signs posts of destinations, security lights, empty stalls and huge stones.

Old Park will never be the same again

All that is left are tomb stone-like signs posts of destinations, security lights, empty stalls and huge stones. (Titus Kakembo)

All that is left are tomb stone-like signs posts of destinations, security lights, empty stalls and huge stones.

 
The barometer of life in Kampala city, Old Taxi Park, is reading zero.  It is as quiet as a cemetery. The fast-fingered pickpockets, taxi touts, hawkers, roadside vendors, drivers, money changers and conductors have been sent on forced leave by the COVID-19 lockdown. 
 
All that is left are tomb stone-like signs posts of destinations, security lights, empty stalls and huge stones.
 
The buildings in place that have risen so high, without any ones notice, and they are engaging their predecessors in a staring contest. What was a jammed street with stationary cars and vendors is now a beautiful walkway with flowers. 
 
In the neighbourhood, what was Kiyembe is now a plush mall where tree-shade tailors used to operate. It is now a cottage industry where curtains, uniforms, seat cushions and buttoning are made.
 
Activity in the city has practically ground to a halt. Consequently, the crows, bats, eagles and starving Marabou storks are more audible as they court, feed and nest in the surviving trees or garbage. Even the beggars and mentally derailed folks have abandoned the city. All left are wild cats, dogs and mice.
 
 
 ctivity in the city has practically ground to a halt                                     Activity in the city has practically ground to a halt.

 

The second-clothes dealers section is visibly empty, save for the wooden stalls that serve as display windows and counters in normal days. Bored and broke during the lockdown, drivers and conductors, are seen inspecting or removing parts from their vehicles.
 
"We are becoming destitute," confided a Kamunye driver Sulaiman Sendikadiwa. "We ferry people going to work and students going to school but our service is being ignored by the authorities."
 
Many drivers anticipate business never to be the same as it were before the lockdown. They say healthcare requirements will limit the number of passengers on board, which will necessitate hiking fares.
 
"I foresee the need to clean the seats, door handles and everything with sanitizers after every traveller disembarks," predicts a conductor, John Okello. "All these are costs we have to incur or risk taking the ailment back to our families."
 
A cab driver, John Serumaga, says it will take him more than three years to financially recover given the unpredictable costs incurred while in operation.
 
"The operators have accidents and law suits that cost money," laments Serumaga. "I have loans that I am servicing."
 
 

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