Entebbe – President Yoweri Museveni has, on Saturday, May 9, revealed that he is in talks with his East African counterparts to find a lasting solution to the truck drivers dilemma, writing-off a possible ban.
While delivering an address in the National Prayer held Saturday, President Museveni revealed that blocking truck drivers would have lasting consequences to the economy given the were moving essential cargo to sustain the livelihood of Uganda and neighbouring countries.
“Within the country, the problem (COVID-19) is not showing. But the truck drivers from the neighbouring states in the region. If we stop the trucks, how shall we survive? We banned the movement of people because some are just carrying rumours,” President Museveni said sending the celebrants in laughter.
“Someone carrying petroleum, or carrying our coffee; that one (transporter) we cannot stop him. Therefore, we are in talks with His Excellency, Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and Magufuli (Tanzania) and we shall have a common solution for these drivers,” President Museveni revealed.
President Museveni disclosed that his Kenyan counterpart, H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, recommended testing in Naivasha (Kenya) before dispatching with joint medical teams from the states conducting the tests
“They should be tested from where they are originating from to curb the problem.” President Museveni said.
Museveni, on another note, acknowledged that health teams – while interacting and testing drivers, have found new illness among them.
God has a purpose for this disease. My health personnel have found truck drivers with illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure. How can somebody of High Blood Pressure driver a 40 tons’ truck? How do you expect him not to have an accident?” President Museveni intrigued the celebrants.
“It has been eye-opening that we have not been paying attention to the transport sector. These truck drivers should be in good health like pilots,” President Museveni revealed.
On a review of the COVID-19 cases, 54 drivers have tested positive of COVID-19 to include Kenyans (26), Tanzanians (17), Ugandans (8), Burundian (1), Rwandans (1) and Eritrean (1) – representing close to 50% of the cases as Uganda’s tally languished at 114 infections.
Despite a number of measures put in place to manage the threat of foreign cargo drivers frustrating the fight against coronavirus, Uganda continues to register Covid-19 cases mainly involving truck drivers from neighbouring countries.
Following the increased Covid-19 cases among truck drivers, the trade and transport national taskforce sub-committee resolved that drivers park in only gazetted places where they can be tracked while in transit in case their results, from samples taken at the border of entry, return positive.
In an interview with Uganda’s Daily Monitor, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the senior public relations officer at the Ministry of Health, said: “We have not stopped truck drivers from coming, [but] we ensure we test them and establish that they are not interacting with any member of our population.”
On Wednesday, May 6, Kenya’s government directed all cross-border truck drivers be tested for COVID-19 at least 48 hours before leaving Mombasa or Nairobi.
This according to Kenya’s Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia is part of additional measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus through imported cases.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, , CS Macharia said the drivers will be required to produce a Covid-19 free certificate at the border points, adding that the directive will apply even to drivers entering the country from other neighbouring regions.
“All truck drivers leaving our country to the neighbouring country have to be tested at least 48 hours before they leave Nairobi or Mombasa because by the time they reach the border they must show a certificate that they are Covid-19 free,” said CS Macharia.
“And that will be mandatory and also applies to drivers coming from other regions like Uganda and Rwanda.”