Regional trade facilitating agency TradeMark East Africa has today handed over Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Elegu One Stop Border Post (OSBP) frontline staff and informal cross border traders.
The delivery of PPEs at Elegu OSBP comes at the back of concentrated efforts undertaken by the government of Uganda and its partners to further curb the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus that caused havoc across the world.
The PPE presented at Elegu OSBP were funded by Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) through TradeMark East Africa’s Safe Trade Emergency Facility. Other OBSPs that have already benefited from this Safe Trade initiative are Busia and Mutukula.
Ulrik Jorgensen, Counsellor and Teamleader Growth Team at the Denmark in Uganda Embassy and Damali Ssali, the acting country director for TradeMark East Africa, Uganda delivered the PPE to Elegu OSBP. On hand to receive the PPE was Abel Kagumire, the Commissioner Customs at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
The personal protective equipment provided included but not limited to 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 sanitiser dispensers and disinfectant spray bottles.
While receiving the PPE, Abel Kagumire, the URA commissioner customs underscored the significance of the Elegu OSBP as a strategic border for Uganda.
“As a country, we look at Elegu border as a strategic border for growing our exports. We have a lot of agricultural produce in Uganda which is needed in South Sudan. That is why we come up with processes that help facilitate exports. We are challenging our people to add value to the products that they export so that we earn even more from South Sudan. As government agencies, we are here to facilitate trade,” Kagumire said, adding;
“We thank our partners; TradeMark East Africa and the Danish Embassy for donating this Personal Protective Equipment. Allow me confirm that this equipment received today is not for the customs team alone but for all trade facilitation agencies operating here and informal traders.”
Ulrik Jorgensen, the Counsellor and Teamleader Growth Team at the Denmark in Uganda Embassy noted that he was happy that Trade was continuing even amidst challenges such as COVID-19 and floods in Elegu.
“It is very positive to see that Trade is still progressing even amidst some difficulties. COVID-19 has affected the whole world. Many places in Europe and North America are experiencing a second wave with countries being locked down again. Fortunately, we are not seeing the same here in Uganda. This because of the efforts that Uganda has managed to put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19. Uganda is in a very good place and we are happy to continue working with you to achieve even more success.”
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.
These PPEs are part of the 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.
“We are handing over Personal Protective Equipment because we want to see that Safe Trade continues. People still have to trade, have to eat and live even if we are faced with COVID-19. These PPEs are for all border agencies operating here in Elegu and Informal Traders particularly Women Cross Border Traders. We have already delivered the same in Busia, Mutukula and Mirima,” Damali Ssali, the acting country director for TradeMark EA, Uganda noted, adding;
“The Safe Trade Emergency Facility that was developed by TradeMark EA and funded by our partners – Denmark includes the Safe Trade Zones. We are still in the planning of how to implement these Safe Trade Zones. The Safe Trade Zones are supposed to facilitate Informal Trade. It is not just about Formal Trade. There is a lot of Informal Trade happening in towns like Elegu, even amidst floods affecting this town. Our concept of the Safe Trade Zones is that the key markets that are near busy borders like Elegu, Mutukula and Busia should also be helped and facilitated to safely open and trade even when there is COVID-19. A lot of the people in these markets are Women and Youth. If they don’t have an income, it means also their families have no income. We have to support informal trade.”
Other interventions under the Safe Trade Emergency 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.