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Uganda mulls restricting cross-border cargo truck drivers as Covid-19 cases surge

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Uganda mulls restricting cross-border cargo truck drivers as Covid-19 cases surge

Kenya-Uganda border
Oil tankers await customs clearance at the Kenya-Uganda border in Busia. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Uganda is devising measures to control entry of cross-border cargo truck drivers as the surge in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country is attributed to them.

Internal Affairs minister Jeje Odongo told reporters on Thursday that while the country is sacrificing to keep the spread of Covid-19 minimal, the efforts are being undermined by imported cases.

Mr Odongo said that as at Tuesday this week the country had only 56 cases but the number jumped to 61 on Wednesday on account of five cross-border truck drivers, four from Kenya and the other from Tanzania. The minister said the national task force is studying possible remedial actions.

One of the measures is relay driving, whereby a driver from a neighbouring country hands over the vehicle to a Ugandan driver at the border crossing after the vehicle has been sanitised.

The Ugandan driver will take the cargo to the final destination. In case the cargo is transiting through, the Ugandan driver similarly hands over the truck to another driver at the border crossing after the vehicle is sanitised.

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The other measure on consideration, according to the minister, is deploying rapid test kits at the border so that the results are obtained before the driver proceeds with the journey.

Mr Odongo, however, noted that this may be prohibitive since each test costs $65 and there are three people in the truck. An average of 1,000 trucks cross into the country daily.

The other possible measure is to have the drivers park in designated areas to limit their interaction with the public.

Uganda allowed the continued operation of cross-border cargo trucks, trains and air cargo despite closing all its border entry points. The move according to government is aimed at not stalling the running of the economy as lockdown measures hit.



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