Arua, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Business continues to boom at Elegu Township in Amuru District, Uganda’s border point of entry into neighbouring South Sudan despite the lockdown instituted to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
There is an influx of cargo truckers delivering goods to Juba while security officials; police backed by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces – UPDF enforce standard operating procedures as hundreds of people cross from Nimule border in South Sudan to Elegu.
Joseph Nyeko, a cross border fuel dealer in Elegu explains that business is continuing normally without any interference as long as one puts on a face mask, sanitizes hands and observes social distancing rules.
Lilly Adokorach, a food vendor at Elegu Market says they despite the Presidential directive to ban inter-district travels, they have since continued to receive South Sudanese buyers from Nimule and Juba.
Elegu border was the epitome of COVID-19 transmissions recording up to 35,000 confirmed cases of the virus throughout 2020. This primarily was because of the influx of long-distance cargo drivers delivering goods to South Sudan.
Robert Onekalit, in charge of Elegu Port Health says there are too many movements among the cross border community of the two East African Countries which undermines the control of the spread of the global virus.
Onekalit disclosed that while most truck drivers arrive at the border after they have been tested, their worry is among the border community where surveillance and risk communication have not been adequately conducted due to staff shortage.
The Amuru District Health Officer Dr Patrick Odong Olwedo disclosed to URN that the border is open to free entry and exit though under strict observance of standard operating procedures.
He said other travellers are being tested by Test & Fly, a private laboratory.
The Amuru Resident District Commissioner who also doubles as the District Task Force Chairperson for COVID-19, Geoffrey Oceng Osborn says regulating the movement of cross border community is difficult because they survive on Elegu market for essential needs.
According to the Ministry of Health latest update with the current spike in transmissions, Uganda has cumulatively registered 55,511 cases since April 2020 and 383 deaths so far.
In comparison, in South Sudan, from 3 January 2020 to 11 June 2021, there have been 10,688 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 115 deaths, reported to The World Health Organization – WHO. As of 9 June 2021, a total of 11,889 vaccine doses have been administered.