Opposition Forum for Democratic Chairman strongman Col Dr Kizza Besigye has warned of a “huge” cost that Uganda is likely to incur if government doesn’t immediately halt the entry of truck drivers from neighboring countries.
Dr Besigye, joining scores of other Ugandans on social media this morning, decried the decision by government to continue allowing truck drivers from neighboring countries into the country before getting results of COVID19 tests.
“Contact tracing and management is difficult and far costlier than the delay at borders. This is reckless,” Besigye cautioned
On Friday, Ugandans woke up the depressing news from the Health Ministry that another 11 cases of Covid19 had been added to the national tally, all truck drivers from Kenya and Tanzania.
Kenya currently has 320 Covid19 cases and 14 deaths while Tanzania, which initially downplayed the effects of Covid19 and kept its economy open, has now seen its cases jump to 284 cases and 10 deaths.
Over the past week, Uganda’s cases have grown from 55 where they had been maintained to the current 74.
Following the Health Ministry announcement last night, several Ugandans responded calling for government to put on hold the free entry of foreign truck drivers.
“You keep us in lockdown and then import and quarantine new cases. What kind of black magic foolery is this?” wondered one Noah Ssetuba on Twitter.
Sarah Aharimpisya questioned whether or not the trucks were carrying air for Ugandans to breathe and survive, while Ibrahim Manzi asked President Yoweri Museveni to “save the country” first adding that the economy would be rebuilt later.
President Yoweri Museveni’s initial stance was for truck drivers to be allowed in after getting tested at the border, and for their results to be communicated to them later.
As the number of positive drivers kept going up, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng on April 18th doubled down on this position, saying that the drivers were bringing in essential items, and that they couldn’t be held at the border as this would cause congestion.
“If we hold them for a long time at the border, crowding occurs. Crowding is a risk factor for transmission of Covid 19,” she said.
However, yesterday the Minister of Internal Affairs Hon Jeje Odongo revealed that government was exploring the option of relay driving.
“There is now discussion of what we call relay driving. It means if a vehicle is coming from Mombasa for example, that driver will drive up to the border, Malaba or Busia. He will stop there. We sanitize the vehicle and it is handed over to his counterpart here in Uganda. His counterpart will drive to the final destination if it is in Uganda or to the border of exit to the country of final destination. He will also leave it there and another driver takes over,” Minister Odongo told reporters.