Uganda: One Killed As Locals Flout Inter-District Travel Ban

One person in Kabarole District was shot dead yesterday by a security officer at a police checkpoint for allegedly flouting inter-district travel ban.

John Kugonza, a boda boda rider and a resident of Nyasonzi Village in Mugusu Town Council, allegedly disobeyed orders upon being stopped by police officers.

The incident happened at Kibede Trading Centre, a border point between Kabarole and Bunyangabu District.

President Museveni on June 6, banned inter-district travel for 42 days in the latest raft of measures aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

During this period, private vehicles are just limited to three people including the driver.

In Masaka Sub-region, people have, however, continued to travel to neighbouring districts despite a presidential directive banning the movements.

Commuter taxis were seen on Friday and Saturday morning transporting passengers to boundaries of other districts where they cross on foot and either board taxis or boda bodas to go to different destinations.

On the Masaka -Kyotera -Mutukula highway, some motorists from the districts of Kyotera and Rakai dodge the roadblocks and use village routes to connect to Masaka City.

Mr Simon Kakeeto, a resident of Bukunda, a border of Kyotera District and Masaka District, said he works in Masaka City, but policemen manning a roadblock at Bukeeri stopped him from crossing.

"I explained to them [police officers] that I am going to work, but they refused, one of them asked for Shs30,000 to allow me to cross, but I refused. I reversed my car and used another route to reach the city," he said.

Masaka Resident City Commissioner Fred Babwine said by Friday evening, 55 motorists had been arrested for violating the travel ban. Another 50 boda- bodas were impounded in the night operation.

"Majority of the residents are adhering to the set Covid-19 guidelines, but there are still some defiant individuals," he said.

Ms Amina Kalinaki, the Kyotera District traffic officer, said only travellers with genuine reasons are allowed to cross to neigbouring districts.

"No one is allowed to cross from one district to another, whether walking, using a boda boda or driving, apart from cargo trucks, essential workers and those going to hospitals," she said.

In Buikwe, many residents who work in Jinja City got stranded after security forces mounted several roadblocks.

By 6am on Friday, police together with UPDF had already set up a roadblock at the New Nile Bridge and the old bridge.

The new Nile Bridge and the Old Bridge are at the Buikwe -Jinja border. However, most of the people who work in Jinja stay in Njeru Municipality in Buikwe District.

Police are only allowing essential workers and those working in the factories to cross the border.

Mr Maurice Niyonzima, the acting Jinja City police commander, said no vehicle will be allowed to another district without proper documents.

In Butaleja, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Stanley Bayole, said: "We have several roadblocks in all borders of the district. We also resolved to ban unnecessary movement to trading centres ."

Ms Agnes Nahirya, a resident of Himutu Sub-county, said it is unfortunate that some of the poor people are starving but the government is focused on containing the virus.

"In the first place, many of our people cannot afford two meals a day now. Many are starving at home and you cannot expect them to afford masks," she said.

In Mbale, police have set up roadblocks that deny locals entry and exit to most of the districts.

Mr Edward Wakori, a resident of Nakaloke in Mbale City, said he was denied entry into the neighbouring district where he was going to attend a burial.

In Budaka, one Covid-19 death and seven positive cases were registered on Sunday. The district Health officer (DHO), Dr Elisa Mulwani, said the district is rapidly registering increasing Covid-19 cases.

In Apac District, many people are not complying with the travel ban.

Mr Emma Ngabiriano, the Apac RDC, said: "Even up to now, people still want to travel. But we have warned them against unnecessary movements."

In Bunyangabu and Kasese, the inter-district travel ban has affected farmers, with the majority being denied access to gardens in other districts.

Bunyangabu and Kasese districts are separated by River Rwimi, and the police have mounted a checkpoint at the Rwimi Trading Centre.

Ms Agnes Ahebwa, a resident of Rwimi Trading Centre, said she has been denied access to all her gardens in the neighbouring Rughedabara.

Mr Amos Asiimwe, another local, has two families, one in Kasese and another in Rwimi. "The President should look into this issue because people will suffer. We need to check on our gardens in other districts," he said.

The Bunyangabu RDC, Mr Jolly Tibemanya, said: "We have received many concerns, especially from farmers in Bunyangabu, who have gardens in Kasese. Their concerns have been raised with the headquarters and I think President Museveni will address the concern...."

Compiled by Bill Oketch, Fred Wabede, Mudagha Kolyangha, Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Ambrose Musasizi, Wilson Kutamba, Malik Fahad Jjingo, Felix Ainebyoona, Brian Adams Kesiime & Alex Ashaba

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