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COVID-19; Trucks to adopt relay system from borders

Each truck will be driven by one driver who will be switched at the border with another one whose COVID-19 status is known

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  The National COVID-19 Taskforce has agreed that all trucks entering Uganda will have only one person on board for the next four weeks in a move to control the movement and exposure of Ugandans to foreign truck drivers. 

The meeting which was convened yesterday decided that drivers will have to implement the relay system-where a designated driver drives to the Ugandan border and from there on, another from Uganda who has tested negative for COVID-19 continues with the rest of the journey.

For the last two weeks, truck drivers have undergone mandatory testing at the borders but have been allowed to continue with their journeys before the release of their results. In the process, the drivers who have tested positive have come into contact with several Ugandans. As of today, 18 drivers have tested positive and over 300 contacts are being monitored and traced.

With the new measures, new truck parks or stops have been designated. Drivers who have been tested for COVID-19 and are waiting for their results will stop under the surveillance of security officers to wait for their results.  Once results are released, drivers who test positive will be picked up by health ministry officials while those who test negative will be allowed to continue with their journey.

Different routes will have three stops. Route one will cover drivers from Kenya. These drivers will be able to stop at either Namboole, Lukaya, Ntungamo/Ishaka and the border. Route two also from Kenya will have drivers stop in Soroti or Kamdin corner. Trucks from Tanzania travelling to Kampala will cover route three and stop in Karuma and Packwatch.  Route four will cover trucks from DRC. The trucks will travel from Fortportal to Mubende and then Namboole. 

All other stop points that were previously used by the trucks such as; Tororo, Mbale, Lira, Kamdin, Mbikko, Naluwerere, Lyantonde, Namawojolo, Sanga, Ruti, Migyera, Luwero have been closed.  No truck is allowed to make stops there.

The new measures come following an outcry from Ugandans after several truck drivers carrying cargo from Kenya and Tanzania tested positive for COVID-19. Many had called for the closure of all border entry points.

Dr Monica Musenero, an epidemiologist and also a member of the task force says that the new measures are going to be implemented starting next week. She says that all the measures that have been set up are geared towards protecting Ugandans.

The task force also decided on reducing the number of fuel trucks that cross the border. According to Dr Musenero, railway services are going to be used to transport fuel.

“ We want to reduce the number of trucks entering the country. The railway freight services are going to be brought on board so that some things like fuel can be transported using the railway,” Dr Musenero adds.  

Other measures that were discussed and passed include; the mandatory use of personal protective equipment like masks by all drivers. Also, domestic trucks should have only two people. In addition to this, freight forwarders will have to pay for testing kits to be used to test drivers.



One comment

  1. Thanks to the Covid_19 Taskforce for these measures to protect Ugandans and curb the possible spread of the pestilence from positive truckers. That being said however, i wonder whether haulers/truckers had representatives in the meeting that came up with these new guidelines; reason being that the new designated areas of stops for truckers, especially the first stop within Uganda, are way far from the point of entry. This means that the trucker will be under a lot of pressure and consequently fatigue to drive to the first one stop before they can get a break. This is likely to cause traffic accidents due to fatigue. For example on Route One from entry at Malaba, for a trucker to drive to Namboole non-stop, is great toll on one self, and for the fact that they have no driving companion too.
    Also the Relay-system is workable but is likely to increase the cost of haulage, which will be bore by the cargo owners and transferred to the potential customers thus spurring up prices in an already slow economy. Plus we do not have so many experienced Ugandan semi-truckers and there are concerns of both truck and cargo safety.
    The freight train system would have been the best alternative in this case and that is why as a country, we have gotten to revamp and promote it.
    For God And My Country.

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