As the computing of General Election results in Kenya goes on, Ugandan officials said they have put up enough measures to ensure steady supply of petroleum products to Uganda.
Shortage of petroleum products in Uganda, whose prices are already at record high, has been the biggest fear of Ugandans whenever Kenyans go to the polls.
Mr Solomon Muyita, a communications officer of the ministry of Energy, said private and public storages are full of fuel that can last 10 days and there is more being transported into the country.
“We have 100 million litres of storage in the country and there are many trucks that are on the way to Uganda. So far, we haven’t received any challenges on the route through Kenya. The Kenyan route is still open,” Mr Muyita said yesterday.
In the 2007 General Election in Kenya, Uganda’s key trade route to the sea was blocked due to electoral violence. Many Ugandan goods were torched or looted by rioters on Mombasa-Busia road. This led to a rise in the prices of commodities in Uganda.
Mr Muyita said six top fuel suppliers in Uganda have told the Energy ministry that they have brought in enough stock to cover the electoral period in Kenya.
He said they have also increased the fuel supplies through the Tanzanian route from five percent to 20 percent.
“We have been testing this Tanzanian route for the last one month. Currently, 20 percent of all our petroleum products are transported through Tanzania. In case of an emergency, we will be able to increase the capacity on the Tanzania route,” he said.
Transportation of goods through the Tanzanian route is quite costly compared to the Kenyan route because of the long distance.
The Uganda and Tanzania governments have agreed to reduce the road toll rates on trucks travelling to Uganda from $16 (Shs62,000) to $10 (Shs38,000).
Six major fuel traders in Uganda have been using the Tanzanian route for the last one month.
Uganda government officials said they also agreed with the Kenyan government to provide escort security to Ugandan-bound cargo in case of an emergency. Unlike the violent 2007 Kenyan elections, when Uganda had to transport fuel from Mombasa Port, this time round, the supplies are picked from Kisumu and Eldoret, cities that are near Ugandan border.
Trucks transporting other commodities than fuel are also cautious.
Contrary to the threats of plans by the Kenyan government to close its borders to control traffic flow ahead of elections, most borders remained open, with business remaining normally.
For instance, the Malaba point of entry remained open although there were few traders and cargo trucks.
Mr William Busuulwa, the chairperson of the Uganda National Transport Alliance, said they established a toll line for their members using the Kenyan route, but advised them to park their vehicles in safe places until the election process is done.
“Our members will continue with the delivery of the goods after the elections. We don’t want to make losses like it happened in 2007. The Kenyan government hasn’t yet compensated the Ugandans who lost their goods during the chaos,” Mr Busuulwa said.
Mr Thadeus Musoke Nagenda, the chairperson of Kampala City Traders Association Uganda (Kacita), said they have halted transportation of goods from Mombasa for fear of making losses in case there is election-related violence in Kenya.
“We would like to caution Ugandans and the business community to be alert and pause the transportation of their goods, or alternatively, we can use the central route (Port Bell to Mwanza and Dar es Salaam, which is also a strategic route for Uganda,” he said.