The regional apex body of Private Sector associations and corporates in the East Africa with a single purpose of driving the East African Community integration process through trade and investment, East African Business Council (EABC) has donated Face Masks worth UGX60million to cross-border communities in Uganda.
The reusable Face Masks are intended to help protect over 30,000 members of communities at Uganda’s border points who at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19. In recent weeks Uganda has recorded COVID-19 positive cases mostly from cargo truck drivers crossing the borders from within the East African Community (EAC).
While making the donation, the EABC appealed to everyone in the EAC region to avoid stigmatization of cargo truck drivers as it could lead to a break in the supply chain in the EAC, affecting trade and investment.
The EABC has approached the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to support the distribution of the masks at the border points of Malaba, Busia, Mutukula, Katuna, Kikagate, Kagitumba, Cyanika, Elegu, Nimule, Oraba and others where cross-border activities take place.
“We trust the URA as one of the government agencies that has been central to Uganda’s success in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, and recognize the effort invested in tracking and monitoring truck drivers. We know this will support the work of the Ministry of Health and we will encourage more businesses to contribute to all government efforts against COVID-19,” said EABC Director Stuart Mwesigwa (Roofings Group).
The communities to benefit from this consignment include customs officials, clearing agents, cross-border women traders, porters and truck drivers themselves.
The masks were procured in Uganda and manufactured by Ugandan SME Chrisams Designs.
“This is an indicator that the EABC values local content in East Africa and we will actively support the development of business at all levels. We have also arranged to order similar consignments from each EAC Partner State and we urge the governments to focus on building business in East Africa,” said EABC Director Simon Kaheru (Coca-Cola Beverages Africa).
Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali, welcomed the gesture as significant and highly meaningful.
“We are winning this war because of contributions such as these. COVID-19 is the enemy and the enemy is already squatting. Every contribution we get will help us defeat this enemy fully. It is also good to note that these Face Masks were made by a Ugandan and East African business,” said Gen. Ali.
He was flanked by Hon. Mary Karooro Okurut, Minister in charge of General Duties, and COVID-19 Task Force Chairperson Emmanuel Katongole and Member Robert Kabushenga.
The EABC has also donated masks to Rwanda Revenue Authority to aid in the fight against the Covid-19 at Rusumo One Stop Border Post, and will continue to mobilise business across the region.