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Congolese businessmen sneaking into Uganda through West Nile

FILE PHOTO: Immigrants using porous border points to by-pass border security.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Several businessmen from the Democratic Republic of Congo are still sneaking into Uganda through the ungazetted entry points in the West Nile region. According to health and security personnel, the entry of individuals from another country poses a great risk of spreading coronavirus disease COVID-19 to communities within Uganda.

The Ugandan government had earlier on announced that its borders would be closed in order to forestall the spread of the virus which has killed more 65 000 people across the world. So far, the confirmed cases of coronavirus in Uganda stands at 52 people majority of which were all imported by travelers from Dubai, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

But intelligence reports indicate that Congolese nationals pay between USD 30 (113,000 Shillings) and USD 100 (375,000) depending on the gravity of the business and use a different arrangement to go back to DRC through various routes along the porous border.

Arua Resident District Commissioner Nahori Oyaa says that movement of the DRC travellers has been aided by boda boda riders in the area and cautions that whoever is found disregarding presidential directives on the movement of people will face the long arm of the law.

A similar concern has been raised in Pakwach district where the illegal entry of Congolese nationals has been reported. The area RDC Swaib Toko says they are already engaging the DRC authorities to control human traffic within their jurisdiction.

However, Arua District Chairman Sam Wadri Nyakua observes a need to engage the DRC Embassy in Kampala to have the matter addressed and added that many DRC nationals have already lured Ugandans into their markets putting people at the risk of acquiring COVID-19.

But Safi Alema Tiyo, the chairperson of the bodaboda Association in Arua district has accused the security officials of not involving them in security meetings to fight the spread of coronavirus disease. He confirms that although boda bodas are being blamed there are unscrupulous people who use their motorbikes and positions to accomplish the mission with the Congolese.

The regional coronavirus Taskforce and security team has called for more deployments and patrols along the borders to stop Ugandans from crossing into DRC and Vice versa.

Research by the Centre for Disease Control indicates that COVID-19 spread between people interacting in close proximity through speaking, coughing, or sneezing, even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.

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