By Ivan Mwine
The Ministry of Health has suspended mandatory COVID-19 testing at all entry points in Busia and Tororo districts for truck drivers, in a bid to curb the rising fuel prices which have been caused by the delay of fuel tankers from entering the country.
The directive was issued by the Ministry in a letter dated January 15th, 2022 by Dr. Charles Olaro for Director General Health Services, to District Health Officers in Tororo and Busia Districts.
The letter, which is titled ‘TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF MANDATORYY TESTING FOR COVID-19 TRUCK DRIVERS AND PASSENGERS AT MALABA AND BUSIA KAND BORDERS’, reads in part thus;
In reference to the letter dated 6th January 2022, which authorized the use of antigen RDT platform as temporary measure of decongesting the Malaba and Busia borders, we have noted that the congestion has since persisted for more than 10 days.
Given the poor performance oof antigen RDTS amongst non-symptomatic individuals and the continued build up of trucks on the Kenyan side of the border, creating another super-spreader scenario.
The Ministry of Health has decided to immediately and temporarily suspend mandatory testing at the two border points to ease movement of trucks into and within the Country to avert the potential super spreader event.
The purpose of this communication is to inform you of this temporary waiver and request you to effect this immediately starting today the 15th January 2022. The temporary waiver will however, be reviewed in next week’s East African Ministerial meeting.”
It should be noted that the directive comes at a time when fuel prices in Uganda have almost doubled in a few days due to several fuel tankers being stopped from entering the country before their drivers getting tested for COVID-19.
Fuel prices in the country have in the past few days hit a record high with a liter of petrol going for Shs12,000 in Hoima oil city and other upcountry districts, while in Metropolitan Kampala it rose to Shs5,000 and Shs6000 in some areas.