COVID-19: People Using Porous Borders To Avoid Expensive Tests - Magara

According to Peter Magara, the Mutukula Immigration Officer, the majority returning to Uganda are complaining about the exorbitant fees.
Peter Magara, the Mutukula Immigration Officer, explaining about the covid19 testing fees

Audio 4

Mutukula border authorities have expressed concern over the increasing number of people who sneak into the country illegally in order to avoid paying for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) test.

At the immigration, travelers, truck drivers, students and tourists pay US$50 (sh185,000) for a COVID-19 test before they are allowed to enter Uganda.  

According to Peter Magara, the Mutukula Immigration Officer, the majority returning to Uganda are complaining about the exorbitant fees for testing. He says they are struggling to convince people to pay for the test so as to travel conveniently but some have failed to comply.  

In August, government through the Ministry Of Health introduced the COVID-19 testing fees and people were meant to pay US$65 (approximately sh240, 500).   Although the fees were slashed last month to US$50 (sh185,000), Magara says the majority still claim they cannot afford it which forces them to use the ungazetted entry points. He noted that such tendencies may increase infections in Uganda since its neighbour Tanzania did not observe any Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).  

//Cue in: “It’s a challenge……….  

Cue out:………even the businessmen.”//  

He further says that they are keen since the number of people entering Uganda is increasing gradually since the border reopened on October 1, 2020.   He adds that they currently receive an average of 20 and 150 people every day .  

//Cue in: “Before the COVID……..  

Cue out:…….120 to 150 people.”//  

Uganda Radio Network -URN spoke to Ugandans operating small businesses in the No Man’s land on Tanzania who said they rather use other avenues to sneak into the country than paying the USD50 which can be used to add to their stock.  

According to Simon Kakande, people prefer using porous borders where they can bribe police or security operatives than paying such exorbitant fees. 


//Cue in: “Yekenyini wakukwatira eri……  

Cue out:…………………eza Covid nyingi.”//  

He appealed to the ministry of health to reduce the testing fees to at least Ugx30,000 which is fair and affordable to reduce cases of people who resort to illegal means to sneak into the country. He noted that there are some people who directly use the help of border security officers to avoid paying for the test which also exposes the country to more infections.  


//Cue in: “Nekilala waliwo abantu……  

Cue out:…………………kyebava bakola ekyo.”//

However, Medard Nabimanya, the Border security officer, says those who are arrested are brought back and tested. Those who are negative are left to go, while the sick are referred to Masaka treatment centre.  

According to Maj. David Matovu, the Kyotera Resident District Commissioner, they are working with the army to intensify operations along porous borders to arrest people who sneak into the country illegally.  The COVID-19 testing fees were introduced for people seeking the services including individuals seeking to know their status, truck drivers at all points of entry. Others are people seeking COVID-19 certificates for international travel.