PAKWACH. Security operatives at Pakwach security checkpoint have intercepted a lorry truck carrying twenty-six minors from Zombo district destined to Kiryandongo district to work as casual labourers in a sugar cane plantation.

The security team led by the Resident district commissioner Mr Swaib Toko stopped the truck fully covered with tumpline to disguise the security to ascertain what the truck contained.

"We had been tipped by the concerned community from Jangokoro, we demanded a letter from our security counterparts in Zombo all vain", he said.

An agreement which Toko described as "fake" was signed by the village chairperson of Busia village, Yuda parish in Jangokoro sub-county Zombo district where Mr Innocent Oroma, the alleged owner of sugarcane plantation in Kisanya Village, Mutunda sub-county in Kiryandongo district contracted Mr Brian Okwaimungu from Yuda parish to deliver the youths and be paid on commission.

The security officers said the children, whose ages ranged from 15-17 looked too young and were susceptible to exploitation and subversive activities since the authenticity of their working contract raises questions.

The lorry truck and the minors were escorted back to Zombo where the children were expected to be handed back to the parents and guardians.

One of the boys whose identity we could not disclose because he is a minor said he saw it as an opportunity to go and look for school fees to join a secondary or technical school because he had failed to upgrade himself ever since he sat for Primary Living Examinations (PLE) two years ago yet he is under pressure to get married.

Toko cautioned parents against exposing their children to risky economic activities stating that security at the entry point has intensified thoroughly checking what is exiting and entering at the same time.

According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), 45% of children from households living below the poverty line are forced out of school to work and supplement their parent's income with children aged between 15 and 17years the worst at risk.

But although the government approved the children amendment act in 2016 which officially criminalises child labour, follow-ups on identified cases are often not carried out.