All truck drivers employed in Uganda will have to undergo mandatory testing for COVID-19. This is according to new operating procedures released on Saturday.
As part of the new measures, transport or logistic companies will have to test all their drivers within the country and then adopt and implement the new “Truck Driver Journey Management System” Mobile application for easier monitoring.
The system will track the movement of all truck drivers in the country and will be managed by both truck companies and the Ministry of Health.
The total number of truck drivers who have tested for COVID-19 in Uganda is 168.
Previously, truck drivers would be tested at entry points and continue with their journeys as results were being processed.
Dr Monica Musenero, an epidemiologist and also the COVID-19 presidential advisor says that the new measures set up by the government will help reduce the fear and mistrust that Ugandans have had towards truck drivers.
“We’ve been working on getting truck drivers tested before they can continue their journeys. Before we had difficulty because the PCR tests we were using would give drivers the chance of entering the country and get results later. The Genexpert machines will give drivers results before they can continue. Only drivers with negative results will be allowed to continue on their journey,” Dr Musenero said.
Dr Musenero adds that the logistic companies will meet the cost of testing their employees.
So far, only one point of entry-Mutukula has been installed with a Genexpert machine.
According to the new operational procedures, all drivers tested at points of entry without the Genexpert machines will be accompanied by security officers until they get to their destination to ensure that they do not make stopovers in designated places or get into contact with members of the community.
Mr Byron Kinene, the chairperson of the Regional Lorry Drivers and Transporters Association, says the new measures are timely because positive cases of truck drivers are increasing the country’s tally.
“This is okay. Testing truck drivers is for their own benefit because if you're found that you have the virus that's when you're taken for treatment. Imagine if all the confirmed cases among truck drivers had not been teated and left to interact with the community freely. So we support it. I'm going to start mobilizing them. They need to be tested by the way,” Mr Kinene said.
According to Kinene, over 4,000 truck drivers in the country will be tested in the coming weeks.
However, some truck driver associations are not content with the new measures saying that the plan needs to be clearly defined to cater for all types of truck drivers.
Mr Lawrence Lugwana, the chairperson of the Uganda Transport Association says that there’s need to be streamlined so that fuel trucks have measures that would help them carry out their work efficiently.