Don’t harass truckers over Covid-19, freight experts

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By ISMAIL MUSA LADU

Despite their role in bridging the value chain, regional truck drivers have been in the eye of the storm for driving the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Uganda.

Uganda recently tightened its entry rules at the borders, requiring only truck drivers with negative Covid-19 test results to enter Uganda.

Although the regional lorry drivers make up a substantial number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, President Museveni has earmarked their role as essential services, saying it will be suicidal to stop them from transporting cargo which is valuable to the economy.

Transport and logistic industry players say truck drivers are at the front line of the disease and already working in a dangerous environment to ensure the supply chain is not broken and that there is timely delivery of supplies despite the hardships during this pandemic.

“We urge the public to appreciate the role of transit truck drivers in getting essential goods raw materials into the market place,” says Dr Merian Sebunya, chairman National Logistics Platform (NLP) on Wednesday in Kampala.

She continues: “Truckers form the life blood of our economy and should be given equal treatment as the rest of the citizens. They should be sensitised on how to protect themselves from contracting the Covid-19 virus,” Ms Sebunya said.

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The NLP is in talks with the government to manage driver welfare and ensure they access basic needs as they perform their duties.

Mr Ndugu Omongo, the executive director of Uganda Professional Drivers Network, said the very least the truckers expect is being stigmatised and harassed while enforcing the Covid-19 containment measures.
This, he said, under plays unprecedented circumstances in which they now operate in to timely avail critical goods and material through the constrained supply chains.

In developed countries
Meanwhile, according to National Logistics Platform Coordinator, Ms Diana Karimba, even in developed countries, trucks moves about 80 per cent of goods while trains account for the remaining 20 per cent.
President Museveni earlier in the week while addressing the nation on Covid-19, said the days of truck drivers are numbered. He said soon, cargos will be shipped through rail and water transport.

Industry players, including the general manager in charge of Mukwano Group of Companies, Mr Rwabogo Businge, Mr Ndugu and Dr Sebunya all respectfully disagreed with the President.

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