Government suspends cross border movement of livestock

MASAKA. Government has suspended  cross border movement of cattle on the Uganda –Tanzania border in an effort to curb the increasing animal diseases in the country.

Livestock farmers especially at Mutukula in Kyotera District and Bugango in Isingiro District always cross on either side of the border in search for water, pasture and cattle markets.

According to Mr Vincent Ssempijja, the minister of agriculture the suspension will last until the country is free of animal diseases like Rift Valley fever (RVF) and foot-and–mouth disease.

“We are liaising with our counterparts on the other side [Tanzania] to ensure that no cattle crosses to either side until we contain the prevailing diseases,” Mr Ssempijja said in a telephone interview on Saturday.

He said many local authorities including police and veterinary officers in the cattle corridor districts had relaxed in enforcing the quarantine, which made it difficult to contain the animal diseases.

“District police commanders, resident district commissioners and veterinary officers have been instructed to coordinate with the ministry to control the spread of the diseases. Anyone who will go against this directive will be handled accordingly, ” he said.

Ugandan livestock farmers have suffered the burden of unending outbreaks of animal diseases since 2015, which prompted government to place many cattle corridor districts under quarantine. This has been blamed on the porous borders where infected animals are said to be smuggled into the country from Tanzania.

The ministerial directive comes a day after District Veterinary Officers, District Police Commanders, Resident District Commissioners, district chairpersons from 25 districts that makeup the cattle corridor met at National Farmer’s Leadership Centre in Mpigi District on Friday  to discuss  possible remedies to manage animal disease epidemics in the country.

The meeting was also attended by Security Minister Gen. Elly Tumwine who had earlier petitioned the agriculture ministry over veterinary officers in the districts of Isingiro, Kiruhura, Rakai, Ssembabule, Gomba, Nakaseke, Mubende Nakasongora and Luwero who had continued to issue cattle movement permits even when the areas were under quarantine.

 “The continued practice of some of district leaders and district veterinary officers acting contrary to the law has derailed the fight against foot -and -mouth disease and other animal diseases,” Gen. Tumwine ‘s  letter dated  July 30, a copy of which Daily Monitor has seen, reads in part.

In his letter, Gen.Tumwine  lauded police for arresting Sembabule District boss Dr. Elly Muhumuza, for defying the quarantine.

Dr Muhumuza is currently on court bail after  Sembabule Grade One magistrates Mr George Mfundiinda  charged him  of illegal transportation of cattle from quarantined areas in the district contrary to Animal Diseases (Amendment) Act 2005.

In January, the Ministry of Health confirmed outbreak of RVF in Kiboga, Mityana and Buikwe districts. The disease has since spread to Kiruhura and Isingiro districts.

Crimean –Congo fever was also confirmed in Nakaseke District and Mubende District in January this year.

Recently, the veterinary doctors under their umbrella body of Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA) warned that the current outbreak of zoonotic diseases including anthrax, RVF, brucellosis and Crimean fever across the country stems from collapse of veterinary services.

 According to Dr Sylvia Baluku Angubua, the UVA president, the collapse of veterinary extension services at districts had forced livestock farmers to treat their own animals with wrong prescriptions before slaughtering them on failure to recover.