By Spy Uganda
Malaba: There is a looming crisis at Malaba border, where truck drivers from Kenya announced a strike a few days ago, protesting against the forced quarantine they are being subjected to by the Ugandan government, in a bid to fight Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic spread.
The truck drivers, many of whom have since broken out of the isolation centres set up by the Ministry of Health at the border, have several complaints, among them being hunger, stigmatization, delays, but most importantly, a disaster that could happen in case the fuel tankers in the traffic jam explode.
Besides the risks above, the truck drivers also revealed that while some are being quarantined, others are freely fraternizing with the community, which means that COVID-19 could be spreading among Ugandans yet the government is thinking that it is containing the pandemic.
A statement titled ‘MALABA DRIVERS’ STRIKE’, issued by Derrick Ombok, the Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Transport Association, about the matter, reads thus;
Kenya Transport Assocation (KTA) wishes to ask the governments of Kenya and Uganda to immediately move to resolve the situation at Malaba Border where the traffic jam stands at more than 50 kilometers.
The drivers have genuine concerns and grievances and Kenya Transport Association supports their action of stopping the trucks until their grievances are resolved.
The current situation is unacceptable and is at a very dangerous health and safety risk level.
There are fuel tankers and other dangerous cargo in the traffic jam
The local population is getting agitated, the sanitary conditions are pathetic, drivers have no food and water.
Interactions with the local community is going on, meaning Coronavirus could be spreading at a higher rate
No social distancing or any measures to stop the spread of the virus
The drivers are facing tough conditions and stigmatization while they deliver essential goods and services.
We are asking the authorities to move urgently and resolve the issue to avert a possible catastrophe.”
It should be
noted that ever since
the Ministry of Health identified truck drivers as the current carriers of
Coronavirus stringent measures have been put in place to prevent them from
entering the country by setting up COVID-19 testing points at all Uganda’s
borders with Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Dr Congo.
The Ministry tweeted on Monday thus; “Results from samples tested on 24 May, 2020 confirm 14 new COVID-19 cases. The total confirmed cases are now 212.
All new cases are contacts to previously confirmed truck drivers. All contacts were under quarantine at the time of test.
Health Officials also added that; “5 positive foreign truck drivers (all Tanzanians) were handed over to their country of origin. Samples from Points of Entry tested today: 655 Samples from community and contacts: 1,084, Total samples tested: 1,739”
President Yoweri Museveni said early this month that although truck drivers have been identified as COVID-19 carriers into Uganda, they could not be stopped from coming into the country since they play an important role of bringing essential goods into the country.
He however noted that they must all be tested for COVID-19 at border points and only those who test negative will be allowed to proceed into mainland Uganda.