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Fuel Siphoning Frustrates Efforts to Minimize Contact Between Truck Drivers, Highway Communities

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“As a community, we feel it is not safe for us but, we can’t do anything about it because those engaged in this business are powerful people. These youths plant Jerry cans in front of our shops and whenever trucks make stop overs. An average of 10 boys gather to interact with the drivers as they siphon fuel,” he said.
A group of youth gather to siphon fuel from one of the trucks in Waina trading center.

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The practice of siphoning fuel from trucks has frustrated efforts to minimise contact between youths and truck drivers along highways in Busoga region exposing them to Covid19 infection. 

Despite the fact that the Works and Transport Ministry directed that all transit trucks park at Nakalama trading center along Jinja-Busia highway, a trip along the highway shows that truck drivers still park in ungazeted areas where they freely mingle with communities.

The truck drivers park in Naluwerere, Busowa, Idudi, Waina, Musita, Magamaga, Wairaka and Bugembe town council. However, in all these trading centers youth stop the truck drivers to negotiate and syphon fuel from their trucks. 

James Isoke, a trader from Bulanga trading center told URN that youths station jerry cans at different points as a means of notifying truck drivers about safe stopovers. 

“As a community, we feel it is not safe for us but, we can’t do anything about it because those engaged in this business are powerful people. These youths plant Jerry cans in front of our shops and whenever trucks make stop overs. An average of 10 boys gather to interact with the drivers as they siphon fuel,” he said.

A fuel trader at Naluwerere trading center, who spoke to URN on condition of anonymity, said “we have been doing business with them for a long time, and some of these truck drivers actually have families here who act as their immediate agents in this trade. I don’t think they can infect us with that corona virus because they are checked at the boarder points.”

Another fuel dealer from Magamaga trading center, said they use mobile money transactions to minimise the risk of corona virus infection. “These drivers are clad in their facial masks and we have mobilised all our boys to use mobile money platforms while making payments. So when a driver confirms receipt of the money, he moves on and there is no risk of infection at all,” he said.  

Emmy Mitala, the Mayuge Deputy Resident District Commissioner, says that some truck drivers fake breakdowns to conduct their trade unnoticed. “You find trailers in all trading centers with mechanics who at times remove all the front tyres, pretending to repair a damaged vehicle yet in actual sense they are not repairing vehicles but rather siphoning fuel,” he said.    

Mitala says they had initially backed on the National Covid19 Taskforce to easily monitor the movement of the drivers. He however, said upon realizing gaps, police and UPDF personnel have been deployed to fill the gap. 

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James Mubi, the Busoga East Region Police Spokesperson, says traffic officers have been deployed in all risk areas to ensure that trucks don’t park in nongazetted