Lubowa last made a trip from Kenya through Uganda to Democratic Republic of Congo two weeks back. At the Malaba border, he had papers that showed he had tested negative to the virus. However, clearing agents and customs officials refused to touch his papers.
Every day, at least 100 trucks transport sand from Kapeeka, Semuto, Kikamulo and Kito sub-counties in Nakaseke district. The sand is sold to construction sites in Kampala city and Wakiso district. But the task force has banned the activities saying that it is impossible to implement protect the workers and communities against the pandemic.
Uganda’s members in the East African Legislative Assembly [EALA] who have been on a fact finding mission at the different border entries, said in some places like Busia, the queue goes for as long as 30 kilometers into Kenya. George Odongo, the chairperson of Uganda’s chapter said it’s important to urgently handle the situation at the border before it spirals out of control.
In a circular this morning, the tax body said trucks carrying cargo shall be permitted to only park inside boarded warehouses or internal container depots. This, URA wrote, does not include roads along the Container Depots and warehouses.
In a videoconference summit on Tuesday morning, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan, and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya indicated the need to address the truck drivers, now seen as the weak link to spread the virus. President John Pombe Magufuli of Tanzania and Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi did not participate in the summit. It is still not clear why.
Martine Ojara Mapenduzi, the Gulu District LC 5 Chairperson also the coordinator District Task Force, says the interception of trucker, brings to three number of positive cases being treated at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital.
This is the highest number of infections to be recorded by the country in one day, since the confirmation of the virus in March. Uganda’s caseload now stands at 114 infections, a sizeable number from Kenyan and Tanzanian truck drivers who are entering the country through Malaba, Busia and Mutukula border posts.
On a daily basis, between 300 to 1,000 cargo trucks are cleared by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and the immigration department at Elegu border post, on a continuing journey to South Sudan. However, the Minister observed that there is laxity among the border community who need adequate and timely knowledge about the threats posed by the global killer pandemic.
The highest number of cases was recorded last week when 11 truck drivers tested positive in just one day. Yesterday, another four truck drivers from Tanzania, tested positive pushing Uganda’s COVID-19 Caseload to 79.
Bernard Ssengendo, one of the truck drivers says that although they are allowed to make movements during daytime and return to the Ugandan side of the border for meals, they are ordered to lock themselves inside their trucks throughout the night by Rwanda National Police.
Visa fees for Uganda nationals seeking to enter South Sudan was increased from USD 50 145,000 Shilling to USD100 290,000 Shilling effective July 1st 2015. Nationals from all the other countries are still paying USD50 for the South Sudan visa.