URA raises red flag over rising cross-border smuggling at Elegu

URA has intensified security at Elegu border post to curb smuggling as goods are crossed via porous border points

Amuru, Uganda | URN | The Uganda Revenue Authority [URA] has raised a red flag against smuggling of goods in Elegu, the porous Uganda-South Sudan border.

Elegu in Northern Region of Uganda is one of Uganda’s five high volume border entry points after Mutukula (Uganda – Tanzania), Malaba and Busia (Uganda-Kenya) and Mirama Hills at Uganda’s boundary with neighboring Rwanda.

Ivan Kakaire, the URA regional manager in charge of customs in Elegu says that the commonly smuggled goods across the porous border include fuel, powdered milk, sugar and rice among others.

Kakaire explains that while the border is well managed, backed by the natural barrier, River Unyama, some smugglers still use canoes to ship contraband through the water and have often intercepted them en-route to neighboring Gulu and Adjumani district.

According to Kakaire, the tax body intercepts over 30 seizures every month on average. However, he added that they have intensified public awareness creation and use of a network of community informers to deter informal trade.

During a meeting with stakeholders in Gulu city, John Musinguzi Rujoki, the URA commissioner-general said the authority is developing a tax education prospectus to facilitate the education of taxpayers in the country.

Rujoki further proposed coloring of fuel on transit to East African Community [EAC] member states for easy identification and interception once smuggled which he argues will help put an end to illicit trade across the borders.

Amuru Resident District Commissioner Geoffrey Oceng Osborn, also the chairperson district security committee says that they identified nine porous entry points in Elegu. He adds that security personnel have been deployed to man the points.

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Jimmy Patrick Okema, the Aswa river region police spokesperson says several cases of drowning at Elegu police station since the beginning of the year have been associated with illegal entry and exit in Uganda. At least 10 people have drowned in River Unyama since April.

In April, 10 people and a Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) officer were arrested and charged for allegedly using long-distance cargo truck drivers to smuggle tonnes of illicit drugs into the country through Elegu.