Mayor, Traders’ boss bitter over rotting COVID-19 food

Bitter Atima spits fire as Kato (R) looks on during the press briefing

Arua – Al-Hajj Isah Afeku Kato, the Mayor of Arua Municipality has joined Jackson Lee Atima, the chamber of commerce and industries chairman of Arua in fighting for the plight of the starving vulnerable people in Arua district.

The two leaders on Friday, May 1, expressed bitterness over the manner in which the Arua district coronavirus disease (COVID-19) task force has sat on donated food yet people are about to die of hunger during the ongoing lockdown.

While addressing journalists at Hill Top hotel in Arua town, the leaders noted that various people including the Indian community of Arua have donated tones of beans, flour, biscuits, cooking oil, water and salt among other things but none of the items have been given out to people.

“It is now coming to a month that food is kept in the district store when people in need are suffering. The community members are saying they are very hungry, they needed this food so, I expected the food to be taken to the community as soon as possible,” Atima said.

“We can’t keep food in the store when the community is suffering, when the community is going hungry. Even my proposal is that some of the officers who are enforcing the directives should be benefiting from this food. So, I’m appealing to the responsible officers that food which is there must go to the beneficiaries,” Atima added.

Atima who played a big role in mobilizing the said food through the business community was on Thursday, shockingly removed from the list of the district task force under unclear circumstances.

But he appealed to well-wishers to continue cooperating with the task force by giving more support in a bid to fight the pandemic.

Kato who was equally fired from the task force said their earlier effort shouldn’t be put to waste by denying people the right to the food they mobilized.

“We were working as a team and as a result, we mobilized a lot of things including food and money. Now that we have been removed from the task force, we want what we mobilized to reach the intended beneficiaries,” said Kato.

“The purpose of this donation was to serve the hand-to-mouth communities. You know my communities especially in this municipality have no villages; theirs is to eat on the tarmac. With this lock down, they have nothing to eat, now why keep the food to rot in the store?” Kato asked.

He said it is very unfortunate that officials are only thinking of the people in the quarantine yet their number is too small to consume the tones of food mobilized.

“My appeal is even if my name didn’t feature on the list of the new task force, there is food there. That food is meant for the urban poor and it must reach them,” Kato emphasized.

However, speaking before Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health in Arua town on Friday, Nahori Oya, the Arua RDC who doubles as the district COVID-19 task force chairperson acknowledged that the task force received a number of donations which will soon be given out after coming up with a clear model of distribution.

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