Jinja: A taxi (drone) with the registration UBJ 751V was intercepted and impounded by the police at the New Nile Bridge in Jinja city, carrying twenty individuals believed to be Eritrean nationals. The group had boarded the taxi at Pallisa road taxi stage in Mbale city on Friday night, intending to travel to Kabalagala in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, as reported by Kiiza Mawanda, the taxi driver.
Mawanda, 34 years old, revealed that he was approached by his fellow driver, Sam Etyang from Tororo district, who proposed a lucrative deal to transport Eritreans to Kampala for a fee of shs.450,000, payable after a successful journey. The foreigners allegedly traveled through Kenya to Busia, where they hired a taxi to reach Mbale.
Among the twenty individuals intercepted, twelve were adult males, two were females, and six were juveniles. Their entry into the country is believed to be unlawful, as they were unable to provide valid travel documents during police interception and subsequent interrogations. Currently, they are being accommodated at Source Gardens Hotel in Jinja city, while both the driver and coordinator (Etyang) are in police custody as investigations continue.
According to SP James Mubi of Kiira region police, they are collaborating with the Director of Citizenship and Immigration Control of Jinja region office and UPDF intelligence to gather more information leading to the apprehension of other individuals involved in this illegal activity. Police are urging the Eritrean communities in Jinja and Kabalagala to support the potential deportation of the foreign nationals after thorough verification of travel paperwork. Kabalagala is a well-known residential and business hub for Eritrean and Ethiopian nationals.
In November 2022, during the CECAFA Championship, five Eritrean female players escaped from Jinja’s Sunset Hotel under unclear circumstances. Allegedly seeking employment and official refugee status in Uganda, they brought attention to the challenges faced by foreign nationals seeking refuge and opportunities in the country.
Kiira regional police command has called for an urgent inter-region security meeting, involving various regions including Elgon, Sezibwa, Busoga East, Busoga North, Bukedi South, and Bukedi North. The objective of the meeting is to devise strategies for monitoring, apprehending, and impounding vehicles and motorcycles involved in trafficking persons within and outside the country.