By Raymond Baguma
Uganda has received sh2.5 billion (US$1 million) financial support from the Government of Japan to strengthen border management to ensure control of the movement of people and goods into the country.
The announcement of was made by Junzo Fujita, the Japanese ambassador to Uganda during the launch of an integrated border management project in Kampala.
The project to last nine months will be implemented by International Organization for Migration (IOM) in cooperation with Ministry of Internal Affairs. The project will aim to strengthen the capacity of government to police and manage Uganda’s borders more effectively.
Ambassador Fujita noted a serious lack of infrastructure, equipment and information management systems at Uganda’s border crossing points.
“Such lack of effective border management makes Uganda and neighboring countries vulnerable to various threats such as terrorist attacks, organised crimes, human trafficking and trade of illegal commodities,” Fujita added.
According to Fujita Japanese authorities in 2012 dealt with two cases of illegal drug trafficking originating from Uganda. “Since the world has become borderless, a threat to one means a threat to all. Vulnerable borders in Uganda can also affect Japan,” he added.
Trucks at the Uganda - Kenya border
Gerard Waite, the IOM chief of mission said the project would address challenges Uganda faces today ranging from trans-national crime, irregular immigration that is not necessarily criminal but comes along with issues that are criminal such as trafficking.
The state minister for internal affairs James Baba said on account of Uganda being peaceful, refugees enter Uganda from war-affected neighboring countries such as South Sudan and DR Congo. Also, there has been an increase in the number of foreign tourists as well as investors.
“This support is welcome in view of trans-national crime around the world. It’s important to have a well-managed border system to sort out the well-intentioned people from the ill-intentioned people,” added Baba.
Minister Baba said there is need to control trans-border crime, but Uganda has porous borders, with no border posts in some areas which poses a big challenge in immigration control.
The funds will support the creation and operation of an inter-agency work group on border management, procure and install equipment to capture biometric data of travellers, such as fingerprints which will be linked to an immigration and data analysis system.
According to Baba, the funds will also be used to refurbish the ministry of internal affairs’ training institute for immigration officers, equip it with manuals and training tools.
Japan supports border management project for Uganda