The commander of the joint Covid-19 task force, Maj Gen Robert Rusoke has ordered police to confiscate travel clearance letters from Local Council chairpersons.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga confirmed that Gen Rusoke has expressed concern about powers reportedly being abused by Local Council chairpersons. Police acting on Gen Rusoke’s orders have already confiscated several clearance letters issued to members of the public such as drivers and motorcyclists.
President Yoweri Museveni while announcing a 42 days lockdown banned the movement of public and private vehicles save for essential workers. However, Museveni authorized LCs and RDCs to issue travel clearances to people with emergencies mostly medical-related conditions.
But Maj Gen Rusoke insists that several people have LC letters allowing them to move from their places to the town centre or city outskirts even when they don’t have any medical emergency.
Enanga said Maj Gen Rusoke’s concern had already been detected by police officers manning various roadblocks where they have noticed that several people present clearance letters from LCs without questioning from the police.
Police says the confiscated letters will be a basis for discussion on whether to withdraw powers of issuing movement tickets by LCs or not. Enanga said some people are even paying LCs to acquire clearance letters.
Several LC chairpersons Uganda Radio Network spoke to dismissed claims of charging people to get clearance letters. Ronald Muze, the chairperson of Makerere Kivulu, said people he gives letters show medical documents to support their need for a movement permit.
Some chairpersons explained that the money they ask people to pay is in most cases 2,000 shillings. For instance, Muwanga Bigere, the chairman of Masooli said he uses over 100,000 shillings to print headed papers.
Muwanga said the 2,000 Shillings people pay is for buying and printing headed papers.
He adds that out of every 10 people he has been giving travel clearance have Covid-19 like symptoms or have already been confirmed and they are going for treatment.
“Printing headed papers costs over 100,000 shillings. I can’t keep spending my own money. That is why we ask people to pay only 2000 shillings. We give clearance letters to only those people we see who are indeed sick and need to visit a hospital. We have also scenarios where people willingly give us money even though they are sick. We don’t force people to pay money to get travel clearance,” Muwanga said.
Muwanga said they are also incurring expenses of sanitizing their offices every day in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The chairpersons say they have very many people approaching their offices daily. This means they have to buy masks for those who come without, sanitize their hands and sits in offices.
The contradiction about LC movement clearance first came out on June 21 where Kampala metropolitan police commander, Moses Kafeero, communicated to police officers that LC and RDC letters were not recognized as travel permits. However, Edward Osiru Ochom, the director of police operations dismissed the orders because he was not aware of them
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