Legislators have beseeched government to give preferential treatment to the border districts with regard to resource allocations in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The MPs hailing from the border districts told Parliament chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga that the border points were ill prepared to manage the rising cases of the coronavirus, fearing that the fight against the pandemic could even be prolonged if nothing is done.
They also questioned the rationale of allocating equal resources to all districts across the country, including those without cases, in response to Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda’s weekly update on the pandemic to Parliament on Thursday, 21 May 2020.
MPs are concerned that whereas majority of the cases (72 per cent) emanate from the border points, many of those districts are unable to properly manage cases and prevent further transmission because they are poorly facilitated.
It was noted that some districts have only one ambulance expected to transport Covid-19 patients to quarantine centres, as well as supporting other referrals such as pregnant women and critically ill patients.
“You have heard that several cases have been identified at Elegu border and Oyam district is expected to use its only ambulance to help transportation of these cases. What will happen to other patients?” asked Hon. Santa Alum (UPC, District Woman Oyam).
“We made a special package for very busy districts and border points in terms of security facilitation but now they are over stretched and we are at times forced support the Police to fuel vehicles to improve on surveillance,” revealed Hon. Fredrick Angura (NRM, Tororo South County).
MPs also advised government to watch the growing congestion at the border points caused by new guidelines of testing truck drivers. They are suspected of mingling with the community.
“The congestion at Malaba border is unprecedented, truck drivers are interacting with the community, if we do not take urgent measures, we will be in a big mess,” added Angura.
In Tororo district, Parliament learnt that Covid-19 cases are being transported in Police pickup trucks, a situation legislators said demeans the integrity of patients who appear as criminals.
Cognisant of the fact that communities living at the border points are anchored by trade, which has been locked down, MPs implored government to include border communities in the food distribution plan.
“We know from the President’s directives that even when the lockdown is lifted, border districts shall still be under total lockdown – about 44 districts; is there any plan to support those districts with relief food?” asked Hon. Jesca Ababiku (NRM, Adjumani).
Dr Rugunda told Parliament that government has so far collected cash donations, goods in kind and vehicles all valued at Shs 28 billion. He said that through the Covid-19 fund, government hopes to raise Shs 170 billion targeted at bridging the gaps cited by MPs.