Ugandan truck drivers have expressed anger with South Sudanese nationals
who forcefully demand lifts while heading to Juba. The truck drivers said there are increasing incidents of South Sudan nationals
waylaying their trucks and forcefully demanding for a ride, which has exposed
them to coronavirus.
Byron Kinene, the chairman Uganda Truck Drivers Association and David Musoke,
the founder of Uganda Professional Drivers Network – UPDN made the revelations
at the launch of Covid19 National Truck Drivers Task Force.
Kinene revealed that two of his more than 4,000 members’ association have since
tested positive for Covid-19 because they were forced to carry passengers fro0m
South Sudan. He adds that the South Sudanese allegedly threaten to hurt the
drivers who attempt to refuse their demands.
//Cue in; “kati nga mu…
Cue out…silina results zabwe.”//
South Sudan has been in a civil war since 2013. As a result, several militia
groups have been formed and on many occasions dictate the fate of drivers. Last
year, unknown armed men shot dead, Samu Nyonjeza Yako, 28, a Ugandan truck
Yako was an employee of Pan Afric Impex [U] Ltd and was killed at Rumbek town
in Central Lakes State on his way back after delivering cargo. Yako’s shooters
were dressed in South Sudanese military and police uniforms. At least 122 truck drivers from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and other countries
have tested positive in the last week.
Musoke and Kinene also blamed East African governments for causing
a lot of congestion at the borders. He explains that many truck drivers have been
infected with Covid19 as they wait to be cleared.
Other reasons drivers cited as to be causing Covid-19 infections
among their colleagues is the use of biometrics, exchange of documents during the clearing
process and the use of a few washrooms whose door knobs are touched by everyone.
//Cue in; “as we’re doing…
Cue out…what do you expect?’”//
Truck drivers also blamed Uganda government on the methods used to intercept
their colleagues whose blood samples turn out positive. Kinene and Musoke said
it was inappropriate to use military, police and other security agencies to
arrest the truck drivers.
Drivers also note that their wives and children are being isolated by
communities because their arrests are often captured on social media and
mainstream media houses.
Joseph Kato is currently a Master's candidate at Makerere University. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communication from Kampala International University, a Diploma in Journalism and he's also a graduate in Guidance and Counseling.