Kenya Sends Uganda warning over truck drivers

Kenya Sends Uganda warning over truck drivers

The Kenyan government has protested alleged mistreatment of its truck drivers in Uganda, saying Kampala needs to give the matter due attention.

“A situation where truck drivers face blanket condemnation and are treated with ridicule cannot be tenable,” cautioned the Kenyan High Commission in Kampala on Thursday.

Ugandan authorities have been warning the public against interactions with truck drivers after many of them tested positive for COVID-19.

Kampala also directed that truck drivers must only park at designated places and avoid unnecessary stops to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Kenya’s Mission in Kampala on Thursday sent a protest note to Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, saying “the manner in which the guidelines on recommended seclusion areas have been implemented have brought out serious concerns.”

Kenya said these measures have meant that drivers can only stop at designated points even for health breaks and are not being allowed to access basic requirements such as food and water or accommodation.

Kenya further said its truck drivers are “being treated as if they are under quarantine, the quarantine facility being their own trucks,” adding, “Drivers are quickly becoming objects of scorn and suspicion and even being stigmatized.”

Kenya also cited incidences where members of the public have shouted expletives and pejoratives such as “corona! Corona!” in reference to Kenyan truck drivers.

“These developments have made the Kenyan drivers feel that they are adjudged guilty, dirty and unwanted,” Kenya protested.

President Museveni on Monday said the issue of truck drivers being infected with COVID-19 would be addressed by regional leaders.

“… cargo can be transferred to the railway and the ships/wagon ferries. The Uganda Railways, only needs to sort out the issue of locomotives. However, there are no railway lines going all the way to South Sudan, Congo and Rwanda. Therefore, we need to continue using the trucks,” said Museveni.

The president’s remarks followed increased public concern over the spread of COVID-19 by truck drivers from Tanzania and Kenya.

Both countries continue to grapple with the highest number of infections in East Africa.

Tanzania’s cases stand at 480 while Kenya’s recorded infections are 582.

President Museveni on Monday warned against harassing truck drivers.

Ugandans need to know that it is suicidal to agitate for the banning of Lorries for now. Let us first work on the rail and water transport. Moreover, what needs to be done is for the grand-daughters to keep away from these drivers. They (drivers) will also be told to only stop in certain areas,” said Museveni.

It remains unclear if this situation will strain Uganda’s relations with Kenya.

Uganda relies on Mombasa for the better part of its imports and exports.

Nevertheless, the Kenyan High Commission said it had gathered that sections of the public “took the frequent reference and association of truck drivers to cases of coronavirus as well as warnings to Ugandans to stay clear of the truck drivers to mean that the drivers represent everything that is wrong with the war against COVID19.”

Source: CR

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