• The Ugandans accuse them of spreading coronavirus, according to the Long-Distance Drivers and Conductors Association.
• The harassment has intensified in the last two weeks, rendering the presence of Kenyan drivers in the neighbouring country unsafe.
Kenyan long-distance drivers have raised the alarm over verbal and physical assaults in Uganda.
The Ugandans accuse them of spreading coronavirus, according to the Long-Distance Drivers and Conductors Association.
“We have received four cases so far but we hear there are more unreported. They (drivers) have not tested positive for Covid-19 but there is a mentality among locals that Kenyan drivers are the ones spreading the virus,” LoDDCA chair Elijah Nyaga said on Monday.
Nyaga said the harassment had intensified in the last two weeks, rendering the presence of the Kenyan drivers in the neighbouring country unsafe.
“Two weeks ago, one of the Kenyan drivers was allegedly sodomised. This week, another one was pelted with stones by locals,” he said.
A video on LoDDCA Twitter account shows an unidentified Muslim truck driver being ordered to go back to his truck after he had stopped by the roadside to pray.
“Wewe!!...Corona… Rudi pale… Toka hapo…wacha kusali (You! Corona! Go back to your truck and stop praying there),” a Ugandan is heard shouting at the truck driver.
LoDDCA called on the Kenyan and Ugandan governments to intervene and protect its members.
“It is an urgent issue that the government should pay attention to. We are now thinking of not crossing the border into Uganda,” Nyaga said.
The harassment follows the drivers' rejection of a recent proposal by the Ugandan government that foreign truckers should hand over their trucks to their Ugandan counterparts at border entry points.
Long distance truck drivers across East Africa are the latest focus in the war against Covid-19 due to increased infections among them.
So far, they account for over 50 per cent of the 203 Covid-19 cases in Uganda.
Fourteen of the 43 truck drivers diagnosed with Covid-19 in Uganda yesterday were Kenyans.
Last weekend, Uganda declared mandatory Covid-19 testing for all truck drivers.
Logistic companies must, according to the declaration, test their drivers in the country and and implement a Truck Driver Journey Management System Mobile application for monitoring purposes.
The system will track the movement of all truck drivers. It will be managed by both truck companies and the Ministry of Health.
Truck drivers were previously tested at entry points and allowed to proceed with their journeys as the samples were processed.
The new measures are expected to reduce the fear and mistrust that Ugandans have had towards truck drivers.
- mwaniki fm