District leaders and security have embarked on a move to stop the Uganda-Rwanda cross border animal trade that they say is increasing risks for spread of animal diseases that forced an ongoing animal quarantine in several districts in the region.
Authorities say there are many animals crossing into the country through porous border points, some suspected to be from Tanzania which is largely believed to be the source of the foot and mouth disease.
"We have now three times impounded vehicles with over 300 heads of cattle from Rwanda. Some cross through Rukiga District which has no quarantine into Ntungamo but others cross directly. The traders we arrest have international animal trade license and most of them are from Kasese and want to take the animals to DR Congo, but we are in the middle of animal movement control quarantine and the animal markets are closed" Ntungamo Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr George Bakunda said.
Rwanda has since set up two cattle markets near the Uganda border with animals sold at a relatively cheaper price- attracting many traders from Uganda who buy the animals and smuggle them into the country through Ntungamo District.
Mr Bakunda says "while there have been restrictions at the Rwanda-Uganada border for about three years, it is intriguing that cattle is allowed to cross in the country."
"Nothing from Uganda is allowed into Rwanda. Even their people are not crossing here, why the cattle now when we have quarantine?" He was speaking to the media following a tour of the borderline together with district and security leaders on July 28.
Like many districts in Western Uganda, animal markets in the district were closed following lockdown and outbreak of animal diseases including foot and mouth disease and the Pox virus.
The state minister for animal industry, Bright Rwamirama recently asked the district officials "not to be lenient over the traders or animals crossing into the country but impound, arrest traders and auction or slaughter the impounded cattle."
The Ntungamo District chairperson, Mr Samuel Mucunguzi Rwakigoba notes that unregulated animal movements make disease control difficult.
Meanwhile, the district's veterinary officer, Dr Yaake Basulila said the traders usually have international animal trade licenses which makes it hard to enforce travel movement guidelines since there's currently no quarantine in Ntungamo district.
District leaders have also opened the Kizinga border animal isolation and quarantine centre that shall be used to cater for impounded animals.