Mandatory COVID-19 testing at the nation’s border with Kenya generated traffic congestion as Ugandan trades officials struggled to apply the rules last week.
Fuel crises have also raised in Uganda after the government decided on making mandatory testing fees for truck drivers, highlighting the pandemic’s economic impact in a landlocked country with virtually no fuel resources of its own.
For the time being, the government has planned to make mandatory COVID-19 testing at the country’s border with Kenya caused traffic congestion last week.
The Ugandan customs officials are working to sanction the rules amid outrage from truckers, who demanded the removal of the compulsory testing if they already had proof of negative test results from Kenya.
However, many fuel stations were left empty after the little movement at the borders. Motorists lined up at the few still operating, raging anger against when prices eventually rose sharply.
Whereas, truck drivers working on long-routes have long demanded exemption from the Ugandan government’s rigid criteria to control the spread of the coronavirus, calling their service necessary. A parallel dispute over testing fueled protests on the Kenyan highway leading to the Uganda border in 2020.
Kenya and Uganda are major transport corridors that serve a large part of central and southern Africa, usually coming from the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa.
Compulsory COVID-19 testing at the border of Uganda with Kenya costs about $30, and this amount is huge, said the truckers’ representatives.
However, on January 18 Uganda government suspended the mandatory testing at the border and hoped to ease a fuel shortage in the capital, Kampala, where some stations were charging nearly $3, almost twice the regular price, for just a litre of patrol.
Prime Minister Robinath Nabbanja on January 19 has shown his frustration over fuel prices, encouraging Ugandans to boycott companies seen as taking advantage of confusion at the border.
She further said, “I want to advise all the Ugandans to go to petrol stations that have not raised their prices.”
Meanwhile, based on official figures, Uganda currently holds 159,454 cases as of Thursday, including 435 active hospitalizations.