What you need to know:
- 16 youth were arrested last week for their alleged involvement in the vice.
The authorities in West Nile have launched a crackdown against smuggling of fuel from DR Congo.
In an operation conducted by security personnel and Uganda Revenue Authority officials in Koboko Town last week,16 youth were arrested for their alleged involvement in the vice.
The operation follows reports that many school-going children have been recruited into selling smuggled fuel on the streets.
West Nile leaders expressed concern that this could put lives of the children at risk in case of any fire outbreak because fuel is highly flammable.
The URA manager for northern region, Mr Ivan Kakaire, said several people deal in smuggled goods such as fuel, motorcycles and tobacco from South Sudan and DR Congo. “We are losing billions of shillings to illegal trade by the business people who are dodging to pay tax,” Mr Kakaire said.
He said the porous border points in South Sudan and DR Congo is making it difficult for them to stop smuggling.
In Arua City, Mr Malon Avutia, the mayor for Ayivu Division, blamed continued smuggling on unemployment of youth. “West Nile is the second poorest sub-region after Karamoja sub-region, and because of this, many people will be forced to do such illicit trade. This is mainly due to unemployment of the youth who are the majority in the business, and the continuous closure of schools ,” he said.
In September, a 13-year-old boy in Koboko Town died after a fire broke out in a grass-thatched house where alleged smuggled fuel was stored.
Crackdown on smuggling
In 2010, URA seized contraband cigarettes worth Shs67 million in a sigle operation. On May 5, 2013, URA intercepted a UPDF vehicle with more than 30 cartons of smuggled cigarettes worth more than Shs50 million at Pakwach checkpoint.
On November 10, 2012, about 80 cartons of illegal cigarettes worth Shs48 million were impounded at Midia Sub-county in an abandoned house near the DRC border. In 2015, more than 1,000 packs of export cigarettes were impounded.