Kampala was locked in endless crisis meetings last week trying to find new ways to end a strike by truck drivers over mandatory testing of all drivers at border crossing points.
On Friday the Ugandan authorities agreed to Trucks allow crews with negative Covid-19 test results performed within 72 hours to traverse the country and recognize PCR test results from Kenya, as long as they are performed in one of the EAC Secretariat’s accredited laboratories. The government has also cut Covid-19 testing fees from $ 30 at the borders to $ 25 for truck drivers.
“As a temporary measure, the Ugandan government has approved all truck drivers and their accompanying staff with negative Covid-19-PCR to release results within 72 hours, “said Henry Mwebesa, Uganda’s Health Director, in a statement.
This came after Uganda’s proposed review of Regional Electronic Cargo and Drivers Tracking System (RECDTS), which enables Covid-19 tests after 14 days for a shorter period of seven days due to the high transferability of the Omicron variant.
Dr. Mwebesa said the new measures will help clear the cargo congestion on Uganda’s borders following the strike that began last Monday.
The business community in Kampala had opposed the new measures to contain Covid- 19 and stated that they would increase the cost of living in the US in the region.
“Our booth as Kampala City Tr The aders Association (Kacita) is for East African countries to pass the multiple tests at the starting point. and abolish entry points of the customs authorities. This increases business costs and reduces cargo turnaround times, ”said Jemba Mulondo, Kacita Minister of Defense and Environment.
Health Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Ainebyoona said Uganda had decided to introduce mandatory testing all entry and exit points to combat the rising Covid 19 cases. The fees apply to border points and airports, but the discount only applies to truck drivers.
The test is free in Kenya, while Uganda charges fees independently of the test results from Kenya.
On Tuesday night, truckers left their vehicles parked at the Busia border in protest of the mandatory test, which led to a traffic jam of over 50 km and blocked entry into Uganda. An estimated 1,300 transit trucks cross the border post daily.
Clearing agents say cargo in transit across the Elegu-South Sudan border has decreased significantly as most of the trucks come out of the port of Mombasa.
The Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) had threatened to suspend the transport of cargo due to the test guideline.
“We need assurances about the safety of drivers and trucks, if the result is positive. Where are the drivers isolated and at what cost? Who will pay the costs? How long does the isolation phase last if the driver is asymptomatic? “KTA Chairman Newton Wang’oo.
Fred Seka, President of the Association of East African Freight Forwarders, asked the region to accept the EAC-Covid- 19 vaccine passport to encourage acceptance of stings among truck drivers and other workers in the logistics sector.
The test is free in Kenya, while Uganda is charged regardless of the test results from Kenya.
The measure was chaired by the preliminary ministerial conference in Uganda. accepted Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja.
With this step, Kampala has given in to pressure from players in the logistics and transport industry to harmonize its Covid-19 test modalities with other member states of the East African Community (EAC).
“We call on the Ugandan authorities to review the new directive and to abolish the US $ 30 per test, which is an additional cost because Covid-19 tests are carried out free of charge in the other states of the East African Community (EAC) will. 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.