Following the strict new guidelines by H.E. The President to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the joint security agencies were now focusing on observing the ban on travel to and from Uganda and ensuring no persons enter Uganda by land or water except for drivers and accompanying crew, (not exceeding 3 persons) for cargo transport vehicles like trailers, lorries and other vehicles. No buses, mini buses, salon cars or bodabodas shall be allowed in the country. This also includes pedestrians, walking on foot and cyclists riding bicycles.
All our border points were beefed up with additional deployments to ensure strict adherence to the border lockdown. A few sanctions were carried out as follows; On the 21/03/2020, 9 Tanzanian businessmen dealing in sugar were intercepted by the Police Marine Unit after they entered Uganda, using MV Upendo in Mwanza, and escorted back to Tanzania. These include; Juma Mchalaganya, Kondo Msuka, Spencer Jupinya, Hajji Juma, Matthias Alisteus, Siraje Kassim, Mussa Alfani, Raphael Abel And Malizia Osward; In Zombo, 6 Chinese and 2 Ugandans who attempted to cross to Bunia, DRC were arrested; on the 9/03/2020, a Japanese national identified as Kitahori Ken, a 47 year old, male adult was denied entry, after he failed to complete the 14 day quarantine in Kenya. He had travelled to Malaba from Madagascar, through Ethiopia and Kenya.
In addition, 13 Congolese were arrested while crossing at Rwenshama landing site. They were profiled and quarantined, pending court; on the 18/03/2020, two Ugandan teachers who returned to Uganda through Katuna, were traced. They were identified as; Tumusiime Denis and Byaruhanga Godson, who were picked from their homes in Buhandagazi cell Nyabiteete Parish Buyanja Sub county, Rukungiri District, and transferred to Rwamahwa Health Centre IV for quarantine. On the 21/03/2020, a group of 80 Ugandans, entered Uganda from Rwanda, through Katuna border and are being held in Kabale Municipality, and efforts to quarantine them are being made by the Ministry of Health. On the 20/03/2020, one Kabhego Christine, a 31 year old, female adult, resident of kabira LC1, Namuntuku Parish, Maanyi Sub county , Mityana District, went for burial in Buyanika LC, Bihembo Sub County, Rwabuyangu Province, Rwanda and returned on the 22/03/2020 via Katuna. However, the district health officials traced and examined her, then put her on self-isolation where she is being monitored. A total of 52 gazetted and 103 non gazetted border points have security deployments.
Our other area of focus is on public transport. Although it has not been banned, members of the public have been asked to restrict non-essential travel and to observe good hygiene in crowded travel settings like airports, taxi and bus parks, bodabodas, due to the high chance of getting the virus, if there are any infected travelers.
We are therefore, strongly advising the public to consider several factors before deciding whether it’s safe or not to travel. The fact that elderly people with serious chronic medical conditions like health and lung diseases, diabetes and cancer to avoid travel. Working together with Ministry of Health, we shall enforce the new protocols on public transportation like social distancing and good hygienic practices on public transport.
As of Friday, through the weekend, all schools (pre-kindergarten to university), bars, discos and night clubs, all religious places of worship, open air market, conferences, public meetings, weddings and funerals were restricted in all parts of the country. But some people are still reluctant and avoiding the guidelines by H.E The President, and secretly socializing and holding prayers. We would like to inform them that there are consequences for willingly violating the health orders by the Ministry Of Health, meant to slow down the spread of the virus. Our teams enforced the orders by warning the culprits and those who continued to violate the rules were arrested depending on the situation.
For instance, in Iganga, 7 suspects were arrested from Pentecostal churches and another while preaching from Katete market. In Mpigi 14 bar owners, were arrested at Buwama, operating village bars (Bufunda). In Kisoro, two church leaders were arrested for disobedience of lawful orders. They included; Rev Father John Bazimenyera, a 70 year old, male adult and a resident of Kabaya village, central ward, Kisoro municipality and Mbonyembyombi innocent, a 33 year old male adult and Pastor of Christ’s Ministries international Kisoro branch, resident of Gashegeshi village, South ward, Kisoro district. Their statements were recorded and the two released. In Mpigi three pastors namely; Serwanga Edward, Asiimwe Jackie and Kenneth Clavel, a Briton, were arrested around 12 midday while preaching at Revelation Christian Centre in Katende, Mpigi district. They were transferred to Mpigi for further investigations.
On the 22/3/2020 at 8am, at Taara Catholic Parish, Onduru Parish, Ajama Parish, Maracha district; Fr. Adrioni Jino Geria was summoned for conducting mass in the Parish, and charged with disobedience of lawful orders. He was released on police bond. In Aswa region, 23 people were arrested including Saverino Lukoya, 96, from a cult. In Tororo, on 21/3/2020 at around 10pm, about 1000 people were celebrating last funeral rights in the home of Oboi Tanga, they were dispersed and Moses Cyrus Kibong Owor, arrested for inciting violence.
In Masaka, 6 people who dodged the quarantine in Entebbe were traced in Nyendo Masaka and quarantined at Masaka Referal Hospital. They include; Kiiza Godfrey Kadogo, 43; Nakyaza Margret, 60, Nakitto Janat 57; Nakakeeto Kaluthum 24, Sulaiman Lukyamuzi, 60 and Bunenya Richard.
The refusal of all the above to comply with the new health protocols presents a threat to Public Health and Safety of Ugandans.
The threat of the virus has not stopped crime, therefore, our officers are still patrolling their jurisdictions and investigating crimes. We are asking them to remain vigilant and limit exposure when responding to medical concerns. We have also prioritized prevention by reducing contact with people, reduced detentions, limited visitors to our stations, expanded our online policing options, and encouraged reporting by phones and increased hygiene in our offices and vehicles.
We want to conclude by greatly thanking those members of the public, who reached out to the joint security teams with concerns about several businesses, schools, religious places of worship, open air markets, conferences etc. They risked losing their operating licenses
CP Fred Enanga
Press and Public Relations Officer
Uganda Police Force
23rd March 2020