Security has been heightened at district boundaries across the country following the ban on inter-district travel.
On Sunday, President Museveni ordered the suspension of inter-district public transport for 42 days effective Friday, except for Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso districts as one of the measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. Uganda is currently experiencing the second wave of a deadly strain of Covid-19 that has already left dozens dead with hundreds of daily infections being registered across several districts.
Hours after the travel ban came to effect, there has been the heavy deployment of armed police officers and Uganda People’s Defence Forces soldiers (UPDF) and the erection of roadblocks at various district boundaries across the country.
In Kitgum District, all entry and exit points in Lagoro sub-county that connects to Agago District, Labongo Akwang and Mucwini sub-counties that connect to Lamwo district and Corner Alango leading to Pader District were under heavy deployment. Another entry point under security watch is Orom sub-county that connects Kitgum District to Karenga District in the Karamoja region.
William Komakech, the Kitgum Resident District Commissioner says that they are maintaining a keen watch at the entry and exit points to ensure compliance with the ban.
“We have done deployment in all our district boundaries to ensure maximum compliance, we haven’t yet had an incident of people disregarding the directives since implementation started this morning,” he said.
In Masaka District and the neighbouring districts of Kalungu, Lwengo, Bukomansimbi, and Kyotera, metallic spike barricades were erected hours after a regional security meeting held to kick off enforcement of the ban.
Fred Bamwine, the Masaka City Resident Commissioner and Chairperson of the regional Covid-19 taskforce say they resolved to get tough on enforcing the guidelines issued by President Museveni.
He says that besides stopping inter-district movements, the security teams have also been instructed to get harsh on persons who won’t adhere to the standard operating procedures.
Bamwine says security personnel will at some point cane those not adhering to SOPs.
In Luwero District, the Police have increased vigilance and deployment on feeder roads owing to reports that some passengers were being sneaked through feeder routes to evade the main checkpoints.
Joseph Abainemugisha, the Officer in Charge of Bombo Police Station says they have deployed in some feeder roads to arrest and impound cars that may attempt to bypass the main check-up points along the highway.
Abainemugisha added that several cars which are not within essential categories have been blocked and drivers ordered to return.
In Jinja district, the new bridge, old bridge, and Queens bridge were all closed by Friday morning.
Access was only being granted to patients, expectant mothers, and essential employees with valid work identity cards residing in neighbouring Buikwe and Kayunga districts.
Within Jinja City, there was also a heavy presence of the military police deployed around the main roundabout.
The situation isn’t any different in Lira and Mbale Districts. For instance, in Lira, Traffic officers accompanied by armed anti-riot police officers were deployed at the border of Lira and Kole district that connects to other districts of Oyam and Gulu in the Acholi sub-region. All vehicles at these points were subjected to a thorough search.
In Mbale district, public commuter taxis were not being allowed to travel beyond Kacumbala Bridge on Mbale-Soroti road and across Namatala Bridge between Mbale and Budaka district.
On the Mbale -Tororo road, public commuter taxis were stopped from going beyond Bwaboba sub-county which borders Mbale and Tororo district.
Elgon Region Police Spokesperson, Rogers Taitika, says they have bolstered the manpower to ensure compliance with the directives issued by the President.
The inter-district travel ban has, however, left businesses at Taxi and bus terminals across the country deserted as drivers, taxi touts, and passengers feel a heavy burden of the directive.
Most bus and taxi terminals visited by URN reporters this morning were deserted as transport operators adhere to the directives except for a few taxis with transport routes within the district were left to operation.
Dennis Byantuyo, a resident of Budaka Town Council says he has failed to reach his workplace in Mbale because he couldn’t access a public taxi.
Charles Okot Oluku, a taxi tout at Kitgum Main Bus Park says his earning has fallen drastically since the travel ban came into effect. He says few passengers are showing up at the taxi park fearing high transport fares and inability to connect to other districts beyond Kitgum.
In Soroti city, the police have been accused of using the directives to extort money from unsuspecting drivers and motorists in the guise of implementing the inter-district travel ban.
Richard Apunyo, one of the drivers from Kagawara in Serere District alleges that he paid 100,000 Shillings to Police officers to secure his release after he was intercepted while transporting a patient and another passenger to Soroti City.
In Bududa, Manafwa and NamisiNdwa Boda Boda cyclists are using porous routes to transport passengers.
Some Motorists who spoke to our reporter and preferred anonymity note that they will take care of their families because their daily income will be affected.
Peter Mutambo a passenger said police should leave the Boda-boda cyclists to work for as long as they adhere to the standard operating procedures.
Gerald Mugisha the OC Station Bududa said they are going to mount an operation and if found the cyclists shall be arrested instead.