Kenya and Uganda have taken steps to expedite the clearance of trucks at the Malaba border to reduce the traffic caused, particularly on the Kenyan side, and allow essential goods to be transported to Uganda and other countries.
The border was congested with 70km of traffic for weeks after Kenyan truck drivers protested Uganda’s move to introduce mandatory testing at its border and charge a $30 fee for the test.
Although Uganda suspended testing, it took more than a week to clear the traffic jam caused by the drivers’ strike.
Further action was needed to expedite the evacuation of trucks as Ugandans have been struggling to get fuel for the past week, the price of which has increased enormously.
Hundreds of trucks have been cleared at the border, but for a border post like Malaba, which operates daily While handling over 1,000 trucks, it’s still a tall order with thousands of trucks still waiting in line.
On Monday, authorities took more measures such as suspending scanning of outbound cargo from Mombasa on the Kenyan Malaba side.
Abel Kagumire, the Ugandan Treasury’s Customs Commissioner, said that after meeting with tax officials on the Kenyan side, they agreed to suspend scanning to resolve the backlog.
Haulers had previously complained that they spend a lot of time at the scanning point.
“It takes 10 minutes for each truck to be scanned, which caused delays in Malaba, where 80 percent of the cargo goes to Uganda , South Sudan, DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi,” said Isaiah Ojilong, clearing agent in Malaba, Kenya.
In Uganda Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja suspended the Uganda National Roads Authority’s weighing of cargo. Uganda has also diverted empty trucks and those with empty cargo containers to the Lwakhakha border post, some 50km north of Malaba. Kenya has also diverted some of the cargo to Busia to relieve Malaba, where a four-week deadlock resulted in long lines of trucks on the Kenyan side.
Mr Kagumir said the measure was reducing congestion at the Malaba border post One.
“[On Sunday] we cleared 54 trucks. By noon today (Monday), we had dispatched 22 Ugandan and transit trucks to the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan,” he said.
In talks held by Trademark East Africa and the East African Business Council In the border town, Mr Kagumire said: “There will be no backlog by Wednesday.”
East African Business Council chief executive John Bosco Kalisa proposed preferential treatment for goods manufactured in the region.
“Create green lanes for goods produced within the EAC to boost intra-EAC trade,” he said.
” Intra-EAC trade is still below 20 percent compared to other regional blocs and this has been attributed in part to various non-tariff barriers, insufficient product diversification, restrictions and competition from products originating from outside the East African bloc. “