Kampala, Uganda | URN | 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 Covid-19 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 from South Sudan. He adds that the South Sudanese allegedly threaten to hurt the drivers who attempt to refuse their demands.
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 driver.
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 Covid-19 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.
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.