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Truck Drivers Decry Hostility from Highway Communities

The hostility, they say, started with an increase in the number of Coronavirus cases recorded among truck drivers, mainly those entering the country from Kenya and Tanzania. In recent weeks, more than 100 truck drivers have tested positive to the virus, driving cases of coronavirus in the country now 248.
A truck being recieved at Nakalama parking yard.

Audio 3

Truck drivers have expressed dismay at the hostility subjected to them by communities along the along the Eastern Route closer to the Uganda-Kenya border. 

The hostility, they say, started with an increase in the number of Coronavirus cases recorded among truck drivers, mainly those entering the country from Kenya and Tanzania. In recent weeks, more than 100 truck drivers have tested positive to the virus, driving cases of coronavirus in the country now 248.  

Kenya has recorded 887 cases of coronavirus with more than 50 deaths, while Tanzania has 509 cases and 21 deaths.  Until recently Uganda was allowing drivers to continue with their journeys uninterrupted until their results are released by the Uganda Virus Research Institute. They were however advised to park in gazetted regional parking yards, in order to avoid contact with members of the community. 

But despite the guidelines, a number of them continued to make stopovers in trading centres, for refreshments, bathroom moments and to fix their trucks, when they experience a problem on the road.  

However, the stopovers have become a nightmare for many of them. They say that residents are now chasing them from almost every trading centre, accusing them of importing COVID-19. Those who reside within the districts of Bugiri and Iganga say that their families have equally turned them away and advised them to self-isolate.  

Erisa Ofwoha, a driver from Busowa village says that he resolved to spend his weekends in the parking yard due to the fear of community reaction. “My neighbours who were once my friends nowadays refer to me as coronavirus. Now the only way of saving my family from public reproach,” he says. 

Hussein Wegulo, a truck driver from Buikwe district says that some residents pelt stones at them at roundabouts and different security checkpoints. He says that even when they opt to use mobile money transactions for purchases, they are forced to flee before picking the goods they have duly paid for.

//Cue in; “balekele...

Cue out…ogende,”// 

Edward Oryek, a supervisor from one of the transport companies asked the security organs to increase highway patrols in order to reduce the illegal parking believed to be a catalyst for hostility for truckers.  

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Busoga East Police Spokesperson James Mubi condemns the acts of violence subjected to truck drivers saying that local leaders should continuously sensitize the masses on the dangers of violence against truckers. 

//Cue in; “the allegations that… 

Cue out…people as enemies.”//         

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