Custom officers of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) officers have intercepted an ambulance belonging to Koboko Hospital transporting smuggled cigarettes.
The ambulance is marked with UNHCR branding and registration number UBD 512X, was intercepted at the URA’s Pakwach checkpoint on Sunday morning. The driver has been taken into custody.
Super match cigarettes, a commonly smuggled type from Kenya into Uganda, were discovered in the ambulance. The URA manager for Northern Uganda, Mr. Simon Twesigye, confirmed that the driver will face legal proceedings.
He also mentioned that the authorities are in the process of determining the value of the confiscated contraband.
The Koboko Hospital Administrator, Mr. Abiriga Alionzi, stated that he is currently on leave and was unaware of the ambulance’s departure from the hospital. Mr. John Bosco Akera, the Koboko Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), disclosed that investigations are ongoing to establish how the ambulance left the hospital premises without authorization.
Ashiraf Mambo, the Koboko LC5 chairperson, revealed that this incident was not the first time the implicated driver had been involved in smuggling contraband goods. He stated that appropriate action would be taken, including the driver’s dismissal. The district is heavily dependent on its ambulances, and this incident has left them short of functional vehicles.
Emmanuel Ainebyoona, Ministry of Health spokesperson, condemned the illegal act and pledged that action would be taken against those responsible. Dr. Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health, previously noted the shortage of ambulances in Uganda. She emphasized the need for more ambulances, including basic life support and specialized emergency vehicles, to meet the country’s healthcare demands. Currently, Uganda falls short of the required number of ambulances, with only a fraction meeting the necessary standards.