Authorities in Ntungamo District in western Uganda say they are overwhelmed by the increasing number of truckers at Mirama hills border post thus putting their lives at risk of catching coronavirus.
The Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr George Bakunda, said the government of Rwanda has put in place stringent measures against the truckers entering into the country which has in turn paralysed movement at the border. He said more than 50 trucks loaded with, mostly, food items are parked waiting for the Kigali government to ease the measures.
‘’We have a challenge of trucks currently being held at Mirama border because of the strict measures Rwanda government has introduced to manage the truck drivers in their country. I’m told trucks from Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda destined for Kigali or proceeding to Burundi are not allowed to drive in Rwanda,’’ Mr Bakunda said.
He said truckers who have spent about two weeks at the border post have parked their trucks as they wait for Rwanda to ease the measures.
The measures also include the relay system which means truckers are supposed to swap with local drivers at the border.
‘’When a driver reaches at the border, he has to hand over this truck to another driver who is supposed to be stationed at the border in Rwanda and takes it to its destination or he can choose to offload the goods and put them on another truck which is based in Rwanda to take these items to where they are supposed to be delivered,’’ Mr Bakunda said.
According to the RDC, ‘’that has caused a challenge to us because they are parking here in Ntungamo District and they are taking long. These drivers are becoming a challenge to us to manage because these are the people whose virus status is not known.’’
He said the district does not have the capacity to manage the truckers in addition to inadequate sanitary places for them.
Uganda’s Ministry of Health says the matters concerning the truck drivers will be solved by the regional leaders as president Museveni has already expressed the need to meeting his regional counterparts to streamline transportation of cargo in East Africa.
‘’The president indicated that he will be meeting with his regional counterparts to have issues surrounding transportation of cargo across the East African region harmonized so that will be solved in due course,’’ the Ministry’s senior public relations officer, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona said.
However, one of the stranded drivers, Mr Jonathan Wanyama wondered why only trucks, especially those transporting fuel and gas are allowed to enter Rwanda yet others carrying food items are not allowed.
‘’We do not understand why they allow Rwandan trucks and those carrying fuel and gas to enter but for us they station us here for two weeks,’’ said Mr Wanyama, whose truck is loaded with rice from Kenya.