Business in downtown Kampala came to a standstill today at noon following an unexpected ride through by Kyadondo East Member of Parliament, Robert Kyagulanyi.
Occupants and vendors of encircling buildings, rushed towards the junction outside Old Taxi Park overlooked by Grand Corner building to see the musician cum politician, as he passed by on a motorcycle. Within a couple of minutes, a crowd had already swarmed the junction, causing heavy traffic. Police fired severally into the air to disperse the crowd while members of the same force, but in civilian clothing, attempted to rectify traffic flow.
Owing to the wave of pandemonium and a risk of the state worsening, vendors began to close shop fearfully and grudgingly. A shop owner at Gazaland Building, who declined to reveal her identity, complained that politicians, in their attempt to stay relevant, cause chaos and it is the "common people" who suffer most.
Ssematimba Emma, who is a motorcycle rider, sympathized with business people in downtown Kampala, many amongst whom have made losses today. He likened it to a situation where former presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, made a similar visit and his supporters were stopped by police. He said that shop owners protested the unlawful treatment by closing shops for a number of days, to their own detriment.
Others at the scene blamed the police instead for the impact on business. They say that Kyagulanyi, the self-styled 'Ghetto President' who also goes by his stage name of Bobi Wine, would have made his way through peacefully and "life would have resumed" if it were not for their unwarranted efforts.
Anne Namagembe, another shop owner, stated shat she was closing, not because she feared what Bobi Wine's supporters would do but rather, the police's reaction. She added that prospective customers would now be in avoidance of town due to fear of teargas and injury. Some shopkeepers though, amongst whom was an Indian proprietor who preferred to remain anonymous, resumed business when the chaos began to subside. He said that he would not be at a loss on an important day such as Independence Day because of a minimum amount of raucous.
Kyagulanyi was making his way through town from Wandegeya, enveloped by a group of skaters all dressed in red when he was briefly stopped by the police. He managed to evade them by jumping back onto a motorcycle whose rider was speeding away.
The youthful legislator had planned to stage a music show at his Busaabala One Love Beach today, only for the police to deny him permission a day to the event. There was heavy police deployment at his home in Magere, outside Kampala, in an attempt to block him from stepping out. It is not clear how he beat the deployment to end up in downtown Kampala.
One amongst those who accompanied him from Wandegeya to down town Kampala was apprehended by police and detained at the police post adjacent to the Grand Corner building.