32 sex workers suspected contacts of positive COVID-19 truck driver quarantined in Kabale

Ugandan Sex Workers
Amid distancing restrictions as a measure to mitigate COVID-19, Ugandan sex workers continue eloping with truck drivers from neighbouring countries. Illustration by Zoe van Dijk for Global Press Journal

Kabale, Uganda | URN | Thirty two commercial sex workers have been quarantined in Kabale district in the western region of Uganda as health authorities hunt for the contacts of a truck driver who tested positive for the coronavirus disease.

The truck driver was intercepted on April 24th, 2020 as he was returning from Rwanda on his way to Kenya’s port city of Mombasa.

However, it later emerged that the truck driver spent a night in Kigongi, Kabale town and had refreshments at Manhattan Hotel before retiring to his truck. Initially, the driver was uncooperative and declined to reveal information on whether or not he had interacted with some people in the town.

He however opened up later indicating that he had contact with a cobbler at Bambocha bar who polished his shoes. The cobbler was traced and placed under quarantine last week.

However, health and security authorities remained skeptical amidst suspicion that the driver could have got in contact with other people especially women since Kigongi street is a hub for commercial sex workers targeting truck drivers.

On Wednesday, a team of officials led by Darius Nandinda, the Kabale Resident District Commissioner, Brian Ampeire, District Police Commander, Mayor Emmanuel Sentaro Byamugisha and Paddy Mwesigye, the head of Kabale Municipality COVID-19 Surveillance team sealed off Baboncha bar, Califonia T&J Transit Hotel and Bar, Standard lodge and bar and Safe Lodge where they rounded up 32 commercial sex workers.

They included 25 Rwandan nationals and three men who were found red handed having fun with the commercial sex workers in safe lodge. Several other commercial sex workers fled the scene before they could be picked up.

Nandinda explained that the operation wasn’t intended at harassing commercial sex workers but to make sure that the contacts of the truck driver are contained before interacting with other people. He explains that the sex workers and their clients were found in congested rooms drinking alcohol.

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The Kabale Mayor, Emmanuel Sentaro Byamugisha is worried that the sex workers could have already got into contact with many other people.

Rebecca Muhau, one of the sex workers from Rwanda says they didn’t get in contact with any truck drivers. She however says that she likes truck drivers because they pay well compared to their local customers.

Jovan Ahimbisibwe, a resident of Rubanda who was found in Safe lodge sleeping with a sex worker accused police officers of storming the lodge without wearing gloves.