By Juma Magino
Uganda Revenue Authority enforcement team composed of UPDF soldiers yesterday 12th April 2023 was forced to fire live bullets to disperse angry traders who were protesting the impounding of their goods. The incident happened in Busia Taxi Park.
Fighting erupted at around 10:16 on Wednesday morning when a URA enforcement team led by the operations supervisor only identified as Simon responded to a tip from one of their informers that there was a team of traders that was packing smuggled items in Busia Taxi Park. The items included; clothes, cement, electronics, and flour smuggled from neighboring Kenya.
However, this didn’t go well with the traders resulting in a heavy fight after they started pelting stones at the enforcement officers who also responded by firing live bullets in the air to disperse them.
Mutwalib Mutwalo, a businessman in the area condemned URA officers for violently conducting their operations within a jam-packed taxi park which put the lives of travelers, residents and their properties at risk. He said that during the scuffle many cars were damaged and some passengers collapsed and were rushed to Busia HCIV.
Rahuman Shaban, another businessman, told our reporter that smugglers have always been camping within the park with their goods while monitoring the enforcement team before transporting their cargo to other destinations. He, however, said that yesterday’s operation caught the smugglers uninformed which resulted in a resistance sparking heavy fighting.
He blamed the enforcement team for confiscating goods that weigh less than 25kgs as regulated by Uganda Revenue Authority.
During the scuffle, a reporter attached to Daily Monitor/NTV David Owori was brutally assaulted by the URA enforcement officers who ended up confiscating his camera.
On his part, the Busia One stop border post supervisor stated that they expected the operation to move smoothly just like it has been in the past but to their astonishment, things ran out of control after the protesting traders pelted stones at their officers injuring them. Without divulging into details, he said that his team is going to meet the community for a dialogue and discuss how best to cooperate when it comes to such operations.