While announcing the extension of the lockdown by three more weeks, President Museveni said government would now focus on testing truck drivers among other groups of people allowed to enter the country amid the lockdown.
The president said cargo trucks drivers and their crews, aircraft crew, UN workers who were allowed to continue operating and health workers treating people with Covid-19 will now be tested as they enter the country.
He however specifically said truck drivers will be tested at the border points but will be allowed to proceed with their journeys before ascertaining the results later.
Following the announcement, three truck drivers have tested positive, but one of them, a Tanzanian national has since been repatriated so he can receive treatment back home.
This has however created fear among members of the public who say the truck drivers interact with many people along their journeys and this could see a number of people especially among the various trading centres.
The three drivers who tested positive later after leaving the border points were later tracked using the URA Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS).
RECTS utilizes the Global Positioning System (GPS) to trace the movement of trucks from their point of entry in a country right up to the point of exit to curb cargo dumping among many other risks along trade routes.
The system was used to trace the actual movement of the driver from the border points where the testing took place until their interception, hours later after results had been released.
According to the Minister for Trade, Amelia Kyambadde, in a meeting with tax body, URA, Ministry of Works , security and Ministry of Health, it was agreed that the system be used effectively to avoid the spread of the deadly virus.
“Once the driver gets into truck after being checked at the border entry point, there are designated points they are supposed to stop,” Amelia said.
The Minister explained that the drivers are not allowed to stop at non-designated points or towns and in case of this, the monitoring team alerts security in the respective area to take action.
However, when the driver arrives at the designated stopping points, the designated task force members in the area are alerted about the arrival and keep an eye on them (driver).
The designated task force members in that designated area should be alert about their arrival
“If he is stopping for something to drink or bite, it should not exceed 15 minutes. If he is sleeping over, security should monitor specific trucks in the designated points to stop any unnecessary movements,”Kyambadde said.
According to President Museveni, government could not allow the drivers be kept in one place for a long time as they wait for the results for fear of spreading the deadly virus.
The president also noted that there are specific guidelines issued to the truck drivers to stop them from interacting with people along the way.
“These are not babies but adults. We have told them what it is. We can’t kill the economy that we are protecting babies. If he (driver) is moving and tries to contact you, you say, please don’t come near me. This is not the end of the world,”Museveni said on Sunday.
“Let the man move and if we find out a problem, we shall track him. This is wiser so the economy moves and we can act later. If he links up with an idiot who doesn’t listen, we shall handle that.”
The Health Minister, Dr.Jane Ruth Aceng had earlier defended the decision to let the drivers proceed with their journeys after being tested.
“They are transporting critical supplies that could save many lives during the lockdown, both locally and regionally,”Aceng said.