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Heavy Restrictions at Makerere Graduation Stifle Business

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Some of the affected businesses included those involved in photography, selling of flowers and tags, drinks and snacks, gifts, and masks among others. While some of the vendors tried reaching out to customers by running around the campus, security personnel drove them away and confiscated their merchandise.
Food vendors waiting for Customers at Makerere

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The heavy restriction on the first of the five-day graduation ceremonies at Makerere university frustrated people who had expected to cash in from the graduation. There was heavy security deployment since the president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, and first lady and Education and Sports Minister, Janet Kataha Museveni were expected to grace the opening of the 72 graduation ceremonies.

Security cordoned off various roads connecting to and from the university. The president and the first lady later addressed the parents and graduates via screens from the state lodge in Nakasero. The heavy security deployment worked against business people who had expected a good response given the fact that this was the first day of physical graduation since lockdown. 

Some of the affected businesses included those involved in photography, selling of flowers and tags, drinks and snacks, gifts, and masks among others. While some of the vendors tried reaching out to customers by running around the campus, security personnel drove them away and confiscated their merchandise.

Besides security restrictions, the vendors complained about the exorbitant charges imposed by the university on their operations. For example, some of the photographers hired spots at Shillings 500,000. Prossy Nansubuga, a photographer is one of those who kept running around with security. 

She explained that work was more profitable during the physical graduations before lockdown with fewer restrictions. She noted that in this case customers were being diverted whenever they saw security personnel approaching and yet the business is highly competitive.

//Cue in: “Abantu banji naye…

Cue out: …akubalula bu baluzu,”//

Carol Nansanga, a vendor dealing in flowers and tags near the Freedom Square where the event is taking place expressed worry about the rest of the week noting that security confiscated her merchandise until 2:00 pm after the function.

//Cue in: “Obweda nebyaffe babikute…

Cue out: …tuli wanno bitukutte”//

She further added that they were advised to part with Shillings 600,000  to cover the entire graduation week if she wished to sell from campus grounds. Eria Ntumba, a food dealer from Makerere Guest House noted their location had fewer customers due to the heavy security restrictions. 

//Cue in: “People shall be…

Cue out: …reach us here//

Patrick Elmojong, who was selling snacks also expressed disappointment that he had not sold as expected, noting that most customers seemed to be saving.

//Cue in: “I was expecting…

Cue out: …having a snack”//

Ronald Lwanga, a photographer working with Ronnie Video and Photography, said that in addition to the restrictions, customers are not agreeable to the prices this time around. His framed photos for instance were going for between Shilling 16,000 and 20,000.  He, however, says that parents were finding it had to part with the money, unlike previous graduation seasons.

//Cue in: “Naye otunulira nne…

Cue out: …mpozi enkya”//

The celebrations, which gather over 1000 people at Freedom Square will run until Friday 27, 2022.

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