Monitor porous borders to enhance Covid-19 fight

Saturday April 4 2020

Elegu one-stop border post. Police, army are

Elegu one-stop border post. Police, army are accused of aiding smugglers at border. FILE PHOTO 

By EDITOR

Amid the vigorous fight against the coronavirus disease locally and internationally, the recent developments in northern Uganda are very disturbing.

This newspaper reported on Thursday that Ugandans and other foreign nationals who are trapped in South Sudan are now sneaking into the country using cargo trucks through the Atiak border town in Amuru District upon crossing from Elegu border.

This is sad and unfortunate. This means that some of these people who are most likely illegally entering the country without being screened for coronavirus, pose a big threat to communities in which they live.

On Tuesday, police confirmed that they had impounded a truck at Lamwo Central Police Station after 17 passengers were discovered to be hiding under the cargo after being smoked out by police sniffer dogs.

President Museveni had announced that only cargo planes and vehicles should continue moving with only their aircraft crews and three persons per cargo vehicle respectively. The truck drivers are exploiting desperate people stranded in South Sudan.

To compound this problem, police and army officers implementing the presidential directives on Covid-19 in Gulu have also been accused of extorting money from the locals. There are reports that the same personnel mandated to enforce the directives are accepting bribes from people caught on the wrong side of curfew guidelines.

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One of the affected persons told Daily Monitor that he was arrested while returning from the market and he was harassed by the army and police personnel that asked him for money. He had to part with Shs5,000 to be set free.

Mr Kerry Komakech, the chairperson of Pece Division, Gulu District, said even other law enforcement officers were taking advantage of the situation and also extorting money from the public and picking items from shops against the directives announced by the President.
These incidents are frustrating the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the President has instituted measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease, institutional failures will not help to ameliorate the situation. The lapses that we are witnessing are a precursor to bad times if the porous borders continue to let in people and security forces fall to the temptation of taking bribes to let people off the hook.

If we all don’t put our hands on deck, and pull in the same direction, disaster looms and it will escalate and overwhelm our healthcare system and leave the country on its knees.

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editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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