Mutukula, 30 September 2020: Regional trade facilitating agency TradeMark East Africa has this morning handed over Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the government of Uganda to sustain momentum in the war against the novel Corona virus that has ravaged the world and protect lives in Uganda while facilitating safe trade. The PPEs presented were funded by Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) through TradeMark East Africa.
On hand to receive the PPE at the Mutukula One Stop Border Post (OSBP) on behalf of the government of Uganda was State Minister for Cooperatives, Hon. Frederick Ngobi Gume who represented the Cabinet Minister for Trade, Industries and Cooperatives, Hon. Amelia Kyambadde. The equipment provided include hand sanitizers, hand washing stations, liquid hand washing soap, infrared thermometer, re-usable safety boots, full protective PPE, filtering face piece respirator, reusable masks, plastic face shield, disposable gloves, hand sanitizer dispensers and disinfectant spray bottles.
Speaking during the handover event, Hon Frederick Ngobi lauded the citizens and businesses in Uganda for their strong compliance with the health protocols issued by the government. The minister said this is paying a huge dividend with comparatively lower infection and mortality rates in Uganda as compared to many African nations.
He noted that the government of Uganda is committed to ensuring that safe trade prospers across the country.
“For continuity of trade, in the wake of the pandemic, my ministry in conjunction with TradeMark East Africa, designed the Safe Trade Program in April 2020 to among other things support the COVID-19 national task force to focus on issues that affect trade and trade logistics, provide basic personal protective equipment, testing and hand-washing facilities at the border plus screening of truck drivers,” Hon Ngobi said.
He added: “It is against this background that TradeMark and the Danish Government through DANIDA have today kicked off the safe trade program by handing over personal protective equipment to government agencies working at Mutukula OSBP to further facilitate trade. I wish to emphasize that the border post is home to all government agencies that facilitate trade. Therefore, the PPE handed over today is meant for all agencies operating here. I wish to implore upon the OSBP Manager to ensure that equity is observed while distributing the PPE to all agencies operating here.”
The equipment presented today will enhance the safety and working condition of front-line workers in key borders, which are critical arteries of trade in and out of Uganda and her neighbours.
TradeMark East Africa Acting Country Director for Uganda Ms. Damali Ssali underscored the need for Uganda to safeguard and boost its trade and economy amidst efforts to contain the Corona Pandemic.
“One of the components of the Safe Trade Emergency Facility is the personal protective equipment that we are handing over today. The Danish Government through DANIDA has given TradeMark East Africa, Uganda Program USD 2 million (about UGX 7.2 billion) for the Safe Trade Emergency Facility. The other border where we will be handing over PPE is Mirama Hills,” Damali Ssali said.
She added: “The other component of this facility is PPE for Safe Trade Zones. These are markets near the major border posts. Mutukula is one of them. The other border markets that will benefit from this are Malaba, Elegu and Busia. So, we shall be providing Personal Protective Equipment in these cross border markets that are largely dominated by women. Women Traders also need to trade safely. We are glad that the Danish Government through DANIDA is supporting the Safe Trade Emergency Facility. DANIDA also supported the establishment and implementation of the Uganda Electronic Single Window, which has enabled contact-less International Trade for Stakeholders.”
The TMEA Country Director further revealed that the equipment donated today is part of the wider Safe Trade Emergency Facility, a USD 23 million emergency program rolled out by TradeMark East Africa in the East African region in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic that seeks to ensure regional economies continue to trade in a safe way, while curbing cross-border infections.
Further, H.E Ambassador Nicolaj A. Hejberg Petersen, the Denmark in Uganda Head of Mission noted that Denmark has a very strong bilateral relationship with Uganda which has continued to blossom even during the COVID19 Pandemic.
“When the pandemic broke out, we sat down with the government of Uganda and our partners. We were very focused that trade had to continue at the borders like Mutukula and other places. Even though the pandemic had to be contained, Trade also had to continue. Through TradeMark East Africa, we are implementing the Safe Trade Facility. We are very passionate about promoting private sector development in Uganda through the sustainable and inclusive development programme,” H.E Ambassador Nicolaj A. Hejberg Petersen said, adding;
“Away from Trade, we are also supporting the government of Uganda’s effort to combat the Corona virus with test kits, protective gear, ambulances to take young women to hospitals during the lockdown among other things.”
Other interventions under the Safe Trade Emmergency Facility include: technology to enhance truck driver testing and tracking; the development and implementation of relevant protocols to enhance efficient and safe trade; supporting trade policy, standards and SPS; policy advocacy and improving e-commerce; and the development of safe trade zones to support formal and informal traders at the borders.
Meanwhile, Abel Kagumire, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner Customers noted even in the face of COVID-19, trade along the Mutukula Border has continued.
“We have facilitated a total of 24,715 trucks since March (19,308 incoming and transits while 5,407 outgoing) with the average of 150 trucks per day incoming/transit and 70 trucks outgoing. The Value of goods facilitated amount to 267billion while exports are 251billion. The above statistics shows our resolve to promote free movement of goods despite the health risks and challenges presented by the pandemic,” Commissioner Kagumire said, adding;
“On behalf of the commissioner General URA and staff, I thank our partners the Danish Embassy, WFP and TradeMark East Africa for this timely intervention with Personal Protective Equipment for our staff and other trade facilitation agencies at one of the most active yet exposed border. We welcome this donation with grateful hearts.”