10 arrested for sneaking Congolese nationals into Uganda

Water transport on Lake Albert in Buliisa District. (File photo)

Health and security operatives in Buliisa District have arrested 10 boat operators on Lake Albert for purportedly sneaking Congolese nationals into the country amid the fight against Covid-19.

The Buliisa District Health Officer, Dr Nelson Naisye, said the operators’ arrest that took place over the weekend followed a tip-off by some residents who feared that the Congolese might spread Covid-19 to Uganda which is aggressively tackling the virus.

He told journalists that the residents told the authorities that the boat operators ferried Congolese passengers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who have relatives in Uganda during night time.

The operators took advantage of the restrictions imposed on the Wanseko-Panyimur ferry from carrying passengers but rather carry cargo as per the presidential directive to curb the spread of the virus, the medic added.

People who use the ferry mainly come from the north-eastern part of DRC and South Sudan where Covid-19 cases have been confirmed.

“Since the ferry was stopped from carrying passengers, a number of boat operators connive with stranded Congolese passengers to sneak them into the country. This undermines efforts to fight against Covid-19,” Dr Naisye said.

When contacted, the Albertine regional police Public Relations Officer, Mr Julius Allan Hakiza, said investigations into the matter have been launched. He added that the suspects will be charged with disobeying lawful orders once investigations are complete.

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