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COVID-19 Testing Procedures Stir Controversy at Mutukula Border Post

The conflict is pitting Ugandan health workers at the Mutukula Testing Laboratory against Tanzania truck drivers, who are protesting what they describe as painful experiences through which they are tested for Coronavirus Disease.
29 Jun 2020 22:32
.One of the Tanzania Cargo Trucks used to block the road at Mutukula border post, leading to long ques

Audio 2

The procedures for COVID-19 testing have stirred controversy at the Uganda-Tanzania border in Mutukula, Kyotera district. 

The conflict is pitting Ugandan health workers at the Mutukula Testing Laboratory against Tanzania truck drivers, who are protesting what they describe as painful experiences through which they are tested for Coronavirus Disease.     

The Ministry of Health commissioned a GeneXpert Technology Laboratory at the Mutukula border post in May, to support rapid COVID-19 testing of all travellers at the point of entry in Uganda.  However, the situation is tense at the testing centre where truck drivers are continually disputing testing procedures as well as holding laboratory results with suspicion. 

Amir Sserugo and Peter Kaweesi, some of the Uganda truck drivers we found stuck in the long queue at the border on the Tanzanian side, narrate that their Tanzanian counterparts have made it a habit to block traffic flow into Uganda whenever they develop misunderstandings with health workers.  

He explains that whenever the Tanzania drivers get annoyed with the process, they block the main entrance for hours as a way of protesting hence affecting the free flow of goods into Uganda. Sserugo indicates that the situation has become so unpredictable to cargo drivers seeking to enter Uganda.     

//Cue in; “ekisinze okuleeta bino… 

Cue out….nalwala n’okulwala.”//   

Hashim Jjuuko, another Ugandan driver indicates that the Tanzanians claim that they are usually given false COVID-19 results indicating that they are positive, thereby being blocked from continuing with their journeys to their destinations to and through Uganda. He says some of them have lost jobs in the process. 

He adds that the Tanzanians also protest victimization from Ugandan communities, who allegedly mistreat them at the various stopovers. Jjuuko has asked the Ugandan authorities to intervene and save the situation, fearing that it may lead them to suffer losses at the border.

//Cue in; “aba Tanzania bo bagamba… 

Cue out...bikebera bitya.”// 

But Major David Matovu, the Kyotera Resident District Commissioner says security took note of the situation at the border, and that high-level bilateral negotiations are ongoing towards restoring normalcy.