What you need to know:
- The move is meant to quicken verification and clearance of trucks.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has ordered Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) officials to suspend operations of weighing trucks at Busia and Malaba border points in order to clear trucks held in traffic gridlock on the Malaba–Eldoret highway.
By last week, more than 10,000 Uganda-bound trucks were stuck in Kenya following a two-week strike by truck drivers against mandatory testing for Covid-19.
Ms Nabbanja, who visited Malaba border, said during a brief meeting with URA officials that the operations at weigh bridges should be suspended in order to quicken verification and clearing of cargo trucks.
“This is to direct you to suspend weighing of trucks at Malaba and Busia point of entry and maintain those others, which are distant away from the border until we reduce the traffic queue at the Kenyan side,’’ she said.
A weighbridge weighs and digitally records the weight of their vehicle (and its contents).
Ms Nabbanja, however, said the directive will only exempt weighbridges at Magamaga and Mbale.
“This country is steered by a sobre president, Prime Minister and Cabinet and we are going to use our brains to make sure that all those traitors are exposed where possible. We shall deal with them because this is like treason,” she said.
She added: “The economy has gone into shock. You can’t imagine that fuel in some areas went up Shs12,000 and this was out of one person’s mistake which cannot be tolerated.’’
Ms Nabbanja cautioned civil servants to never honour unnecessary policies and directives that affect other partner states unless it is from the head of state.
“Uganda is under pressure from the neighbouring countries that import their goods through Uganda. They are wondering why their goods have been delayed but the government currently has no answers,” she said.
The Malaba border post is supposed to clear between 1,750 and 2,000 trucks daily.
Ms Nabbanja revealed that Cabinet has directed scaling up of staff in URA and Customs to help reinforce human resources at the borders to handle verification and clearing of trucks.
“The Cabinet also directed ministers of Works and Transport, Minister of Trade and Minister of East African Affairs to base their operations at the border to perform the oversight role of supervision up to the time when the operations normalises,” she said.
Authorities at the border also appealed to the Office of the Prime Minister to initiate investigations into alleged shortage of fuel in the country.
Mr Van Olotaba Okoth, the officer-in-charge of External Security Officer at Malaba border, said border records indicate that the country has enough fuel that does not necessitate increase in fuel prices.
For two weeks now, there has been a sharp rise in fuel in the country ranging between Shs5,000 and Shs10,000, for petrol while diesel costs Shs4,500.
“We are optimistic that the escalation of fuel prices was just masterminded by individuals who are traitors in government and it is our appeal that an investigation is commissioned to expose those behind this,’’ he said.
He also urged government to increase the number of fuel reservoirs to cater for the crisis.
The acting supervisor of URA eastern region, Mr Alfred Adriko, said at the peak of the truck drivers strike, there was still inflow of fuel tankers into the country of which majority were for domestic use while few were on transit.
“Before the strike, the country had imported more than 85,120,000 litres of fuel that were supposed to serve 14 days and on top of that, URA had engaged their counterparts of Kenya Revenue Authority to divert all fuel tankers to use Busia border which was not part of the strike therefore the country had enough fuel,” he said.
Mr Adriko said they are working to clear off the backlog, adding that since the suspension of the strike, they have managed to reduce the jam from Kenya from 60kms to now 25kms.
“With the current speed and added staff, we will be able to clear the jam within three days,” he said, adding, that there is need for additional staff at Uganda Bureau of Standards to reinforce the current staff.
Nabbanja commissions roads in bukedi
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has urged locals in Bukedi Sub-region to use the newly-upgraded roads as a link to economic empowerment.
The roads are Nakalama-Tirinyi-Mbale (99.3km) that has been under rehabilitation since 2018 by Dott Services Ltd at Shs135.3b.
Others are Kamonkoli–Pallisa (44km) and Pallisa-Kumi (44km) roads at Shs274.1b. The roads were commissioned as part of activities to commemorate National Resistance Movement anniversary.
The roads were upgraded from gravel to bituminous standards by Egyptian based Arab contractors and supervised by Unra under the Islamic Development Bank.
“Make good use of these newly commissioned roads to access markets and get money to improve your household income,” Ms Nabbanja said, adding that good roads attract investment and also reduce the cost of doing business.
The Arab contractor general manager, Mr Salah Radwan, said the roadworks were completed within the timeframe.