Kampala, Uganda | URN | President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has said movement of cargo inside the country and from neigbouring countries is crucial for the running of essential services needed int he fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said therefore, it would be ‘suicidal’ for government to consider stopping truck drivers from continuing to enter the country despite the fact that up to 23 of Uganda’s 79 confirmed cases have come through the border posts.
Speaking to the country this evening at State House Nakasero, Museveni said if the trucks were to be stopped, it would be catastrophic to the country because there will not be any way to transport agricultural produce and import of raw materials needed for production.
“Ugandans swallow the busungu (anger) and employ amagezi (wisdom). How will our coffee move and why should the farmers produce when the produce is not going where it is supposed to be. How about the milk, the cement, the tea, the food, the sugar. How about our own things we need?,” Museveni said.
He said that to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, only the driver will be allowed in the car with instructions to only stop at designated places. He added that these drivers will also not be allowed to sleep in hotels or lodges or mix with other Ugandans.
Mr Museveni added that he had told his people to look for the prostitutes who normally hang out with the lorry drivers and assist them to earn a living and don’t depend on the drivers.
For a long-term solution, President Museveni said, he’s going to revamp the railway system and also the water transport as the main means of cargo transport.
“The train is moved by very few people, therefore, the train is the best to move around cargo, they stop in a few places. The ships on the water are again operated by a few people. These are the best ways on how to transport cargo and do it safely with minimum risk to the population. We are now reviving it and once fully revived, all cargo will shift to the train and the ships including oil,” Museveni said.
He said that he had held telephone conversations with the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame to agree on the East African approach on how to handle the issue of truck drivers.
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“They agreed that we can develop a common plan for them. They can be tested two times a month. They can have a mobile quarantine; they shouldn’t leave their cars excerpt when he’s going to rest,” Museveni said.
Meanwhile the president said before the end of the 21 days of lockdown on May 5, he will address the country extensively on the measures that will be taken to lift it. He said he was excited that Ugandans had followed his directives that has seen a drop in infections.
Currently 79 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Uganda whereas 52 have been discharged after recovering.