The concerts include one organised by Abbey Musinguzi, the proprietor of Abitex Promotions and others by different promoters. The New Year concerts follow a massive Christmas concert that was organised by Abitex at Happiness hotel in Mutukula, Tanzania, in which more than 20 Ugandan artists featured and attracted hundreds of Ugandans.
Such concerts were banned two years ago in Uganda as the country moved to limit crowd gatherings as a measure to forestall the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Uganda maintains the restrictions, neighbouring countries have relaxed the measures and removed nighttime curfew which gives people enough time to hang out and celebrate.
But this time, the police, alongside immigration authorities have cautioned that all persons who intend to illegally cross into Tanzania will be arrested and prosecuted. Kyotera district police commander Hassan Hiwumbire says that they are collaborating with their Tanzanian counterparts to control illegal cross-border movements and ensure that every traveller goes through the gazetted border.
Hiwumbire explains that the revellers must first take a COVID-19 test at Mutukula port health within 72 hours before exiting the country to Tanzania and they are supposed to present results of a similar test done in Tanzania on their return.
At Mutukula (Uganda side), there are two private testing companies namely Maia Medical Lab as well as Test and Travel which charge Shs 125,000 for a COVID test.
Kenneth Byaruhanga, the senior immigration officer in charge of Mutukula border says that Tanzania issued new restrictions which have lessened cross-border infections. He adds that there are COVID testing centres on either side of the border to ensure all returning Ugandans and Tanzanians are safe to proceed to their final destination.
According to Abitex, the restrictions are mainly in Uganda but not in Tanzania as the border authorities claim. He says that his responsibility is organizing concerts and the enforcement of the SOPs is left with the concerned authorities.
This story first appeared in Observers