Jan 20, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Truck pile-up at Malaba border as Uganda seeks mandatory Covid-19 testing

Following Kampala’s call for mandatory tests of all drivers at border crossing points, a mass of trucks has built up along the Kenyan border with Uganda, although transport companies threatened to stop transporting freight through the northern corridor if this is not the case.

Uganda ordered mandatory Covid-19 testing for all arriving travelers, including truck drivers, on December 20 last year.

As a result, long queues have been reported all the way from Amagoro in Kenya, a few kilometers from the Malaba border post, since January 1st

“I have taken the Covid-19 test at the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi and have a valid certificate that is still valid for seven days. Why do I have to get tested again? ”Asked Mohammed Mahmud, a truck driver.

The new guideline of the Ugandan authorities suggested the review of the regional electronic freight and driver tracking system (RECDTS), the Covid-19- Tests after 14 days allows for a shorter period of time. Duration of 7 days due to the high portability of the Omicron variant, which has a shorter incubation period.

Due to persistent trade barriers, the Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) has threatened to move cargo to the The Ugandan government is reconsidering its new guideline.

“We call on the Ugandan authorities to review the new guideline and to reduce the fee of USD 30 per test, which is an additional cost because in the other states of the East African Community (EAC) Covid-19 tests are carried out free of charge. We also want to clarify how often and for how long the tests are carried out, “said KTA Chairman Newton Wang’oo in a statement copied to the health ministers in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

” In the event that For the result to be positive, we need guarantees for the safety of drivers and trucks. Where are the drivers isolated and at what cost? Who will pay the costs? How long will the isolation phase last if the driver is asymptomatic? “

Since 2020, the region has been running RECDTS, an initiative supported by Trademark East Africa (TMEA) to monitor Covid-19 cases across borders.

Health ministries in the EAC share Covid-19 results from different test centers and the results are acceptable across borders, which reduces the crossing time.

Introduction of a fee of 30 USD for testing by Uganda violates the EAC agreement. Kenya and Rwanda are offering drivers free Covid-19 tests after EAC ministries of health agreed to share the cost in mid-2021.

The Federation of The President of the East African Freight Forwarders Association (FEAFFA), Fred Seka, also protested Uganda’s move.

He said the new policy will increase other operating expenses, such as mooring fees, which are likely to be incurred due to the increase in truck turnaround times as the private sector tries to cope with them Safely adapt to new requirements.

The region has systems in place to ensure that border tests are no longer carried out in order to avoid traffic disruptions, and Uganda’s new measure results in direct additional costs for the private sector likely to harm the end users of the cargo traded across our borders, said Seka.

“The private sector is currently using some of the free Covid-19 tests Partner states are denied new approaches. All EAC partner states should be brought on board to avoid unnecessary tension between them, “he added.

” The EAC Secretariat should coordinate the review process to ensure that all national concerns, including those of Uganda. This will minimize the disruption seen when Covid-19 first appeared. ”The FEAFFA Secretariat urged the Region to expedite adoption of the EAC Covid-19 vaccine passport, arguing that this will promote the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine by truck drivers and other employees in the logistics sector.

“Normally, all players in the regional transport and logistics industry should be adequately mobilized and made aware of this new approach before it comes into force implemented. The consequences of a sudden change in approach are likely to be more damaging, as we are beginning to experience, “said Seka.