Truck drivers along the Central Corridor feel insecure after their colleagues were recently attacked by highway thugs, robbed of their property and killed.
This is not the first attack on long-distance drivers; neither is it going to be last. As the region integrates, there is going to be a lot of commercial activity involving movement of people, goods and services. This will inevitably attract criminals who see opportunities for easy money in highway robbery.
Quite often, travellers from Rwanda to Uganda have come under attack from highway robbers. The increasing frequency of these attacks is indeed due to growing commerce between the two countries with millions of Ugandan shillings and Rwandan Francs — both in cash and in goods on transit. All these attract thieves.
Indeed, every time the criminals have attacked, they have made off with millions in cash and other valuables.
The call by the truckers for protection is not only genuine, but also serious and urgent. Insecurity on regional highways does not only endanger the safety of truck drivers and regular travellers, but also the growth of commerce — which is at the core of our integration agenda. Solutions to highway insecurity should therefore be sought at regional level through sharing of intelligence information about criminals.
National police forces should consider coming together to discuss ways of dealing with the problem — including sharing best practices and perhaps training drivers on self-defence techniques.
As we eliminate non-trade barriers in order to facilitate more trade, the region cannot afford to be held back by criminal gangs on highways.
This problem should be nipped in the bud before it grows into a well-organised and sophisticated syndicate similar to those operating on the high-seas, the pirates.