Ride-hailing firm Uber has suspended its services in Uganda after the government halted all public transport services in the country as part of the measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the county.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said the 14-day suspension is meant to minimize movement.
“The government has decided to suspend, for 14 days, all public transport. This means all taxis, all minibuses, all buses, all passenger trains, all tuk-tuks and all the Boda Bodas are suspended. Why? Because we want to minimize movement,” Museveni said.
Uber said the services will resume once the situation normalizes.
This comes just days after the company halted night operations in Kenya following the government’s dusk to dawn curfew.
President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the 7pm to 5am curfew on Friday, March 27, as part of the measures to encourage social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said people were being “careless” at night.
“In Kenya, we are operating between 5am and 6pm… In Uganda we have temporarily paused our services – UberX and Uber Boda – in compliance with government directives to halt all public transport- to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Lorraine Onduru, Uber communications lead for East Africa.
Uber, however, noted that its services remain uninterrupted in Tanzania.
“For now we operate as normal in Tanzania. In all three countries, we are offering support to drivers in terms of education, financial support for 14 days in the event that any of our drivers falls ill, providing hand sanitizers or a one-off cash reimbursement, ” Onduru added.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kenya rose to 126 on Saturday while in Uganda the tally stands at 48. 20 people have been infected with the virus in Tanzania.
In the three countries, Kenya leads with four (4) fatalities and Tanzania one (1). No COVID-19 related death has been confirmed in Uganda.
Globally, at least 1.2 million people have been infected with COVID-19. Over 64,000 people have died from the contagious virus.
Other measures that Uber has put in place to help in the fight against the virus is limiting passengers in UberX and UberChapChap to two while UberBoda is required to carry one passenger.
Uber has also introduced safety recommendations within the app to help raise awareness about suggested travel restrictions and social distancing with “travel only if necessary in-app messaging”.
“We have a team available 24/7 to support health and Government authorities in their response to the pandemic. Working with them, we may temporarily suspend the accounts of riders and drivers confirmed to have contracted or been exposed to Covid- 19,” the company said recently.
Uber also advises passengers to sit at the back and open the windows to improve ventilation.