October 24, 2020
October 24, 2020

Govt sets new measures for cargo truck drivers

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By Xavier joreen
Government has decided that only a driver per cargo truck will be allowed into the country without a conductor or turn man in the meantime following an increase in coronavirus cases in Uganda.

In a period of just one week, a number of cargo drivers from neighbouring countries have tested positive for coronavirus, which has left many Ugandans worried for their health.

This has also created apprehension among Ugandans, who have since called on authorities to keep the drivers and turn men at border points until their status has been ascertained.

According to a stakeholders meeting in Kampala on Friday, only a driver per truck will be allowed into the country to limit transmissions.

Ms Robinah Nabbanja, the State Minister of Health in charge of General Duties, said the policy is already being implemented as companies recruit Ugandan drivers.

Ms Nabbanja said only essential commodities will be allowed into the country.

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“One driver, no conductor no turn man. They [cargo drivers] said they can, because it is their bosses who decided. Vehicles are going to reduce, only essential commodities will be allowed in,”

Currently, more than 11 truck drivers from Kenya and Tanzania have tested positive to coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases to 75 by yesterday.

Meanwhile, as the one driver policy is being implemented, companies have been asked to recruit Ugandan drivers within three weeks. These will proceed with the cargo from the border points into the country.

“Our policy now is that one driver comes up to the border, after clearance, the vehicle proceeds with another driver,” Ms Nabbanja said.

The minister added: “They have to be given three weeks to recruit. We shall have one driver from Mombasa through to Uganda …so that we avoid congestion at the border. If we have one driver, we can even have capacity of making them wait because they are few.”

Ms Nabbanja also said the screening at the boarder points will continue and that all drivers will be tracked while in transit, and stopovers will be at gazetted places.

“If they keep in motion, the driver will be alone and will therefore, not infect anyone. We have put gazetted places where they can rest. We have also put tracking devices and our security personnel will follow the trucks so that we know where they stop,” Ms Nabbanja said.

However, the Health Ministry said truck drivers with suspicious signs will be quarantined at the border points.

According to the ministry, the truck drivers will be pre-examined from their countries, and examined and tested while in Uganda.

Minister Nabbanja has urged Ugandans not be worried about truck drivers but rather the porous borders where some people go through without being screened.

“Local leaders should be on the look out, our borders are porous from all directions. We have few gazetted areas; somebody has a garden in Kenya but they sleep in Uganda, so these should be our worry,” Ms Nabbanja said.

The Ministry of Health said security personnel will be deployed at all border points to curb illegal entries.

Efforts to reach Works and Transport as well as Trade ministries about the development were futile by press time

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