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COVID -19: Trade Ministry to Set up Call Off Centers for Truck Drivers :: Uganda Radionetwork
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COVID -19: Trade Ministry to Set up Call Off Centers for Truck Drivers

With trans-boundary cargo vehicle drivers and their crew appearing to be the main new threat of spreading COVID-19 disease in Uganda, the ministry of trade is trying to revise guidelines for the truck drivers to ensure that they don’t spread the disease to the communities on route to their respective destinations.

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The Minister of Trade and Cooperatives will put in place call off centers for truck drivers, in a move aimed at fighting the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID -19).

With trans-boundary cargo vehicle drivers and their crew appearing to be the main new threat of spreading COVID-19 disease in Uganda, the ministry of trade think trying to revise guidelines for the truck drivers so that they have designated stopping centers.

Under the new arrangement, the ministry is going to put several designated places dubbed call off centers where the truck drivers are supposed to rest and refresh before continuing with their journeys.      

Amelia Kyambadde, the trade minister, says several districts on the routes where the truck drivers will be passing are going to identify places that will later be manned with security and medical personnel.   

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The arrangement comes at a time when Uganda has registered seven COVID -19 cases from this category of people. According to the presidential directives, truck drivers must continue working but be subjected to testing. However, the ministry of health has been finding it difficult at times to trace these truck drivers, and also some of them have been making contacts with communities.      

According to Abdul Kasule, the assistant commissioner for internal trade says the ministry will work with authorities along highways to ensure that the truck drivers don’t stop at undesignated areas.        

“The established centers will be availed to the drivers as they move from the point of entry. They are expected to drive directly to these centers. No other stopovers. If there is a good reason for the stop it must be communicated immediately,” says Kasule.      

The new guidelines are in addition to earlier initiatives by the ministry of health and Uganda Revenue Authority of using electronic Cargo Tracking System to trace the actual movement of the drivers. Although, the system had helped in tracking drivers which had tested positive, by the time they reach them it is found that they have already made contact with other people.       

Vincent Seruma, the URA assistant commissioner for public and corporate affairs notes that URA will remain monitoring the trucks to ensure that they don’t make stopovers that are not called for.

The trade ministry has also fixed the number of occupants per truck to two. There is also an argument that Uganda should stop drivers from Tanzania and Kenya from entering Uganda by availing exchange drivers. However, the ministry is yet to pronounce itself on this matter.      

Byron Kinene, the chairperson of Regional Lorry Drivers and Transporters Association, trashes the idea of exchange drivers noting that trucks aren’t like any other vehicle that you can get anyone to drive.He says, that different trucks have got different mechanical and technical challenges best known to their respective drivers.   

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Available statistics from Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) indicates that an average of 1063 trucks have entered Uganda through borders points of Busia, Malaba, Mutukula, and Elugu between April 1 to 19.