Jan 20, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Covid-19 charges turn into non-tariff barrier to EAC trade

And the assessment of the East African Community Secretariat (EAC) in Arusha, Tanzania is that the erratic indictments and mismatched demand for Covid-19 certificates mean the region may take longer to see the effects to recover from the pandemic. in which all six member states suffered from economic turmoil.

Dr. Peter Mathuki, EAC secretary general, said on Friday that member states need to accelerate the adoption of a joint document on freedom of movement in times of pandemic, known as the EACPass.

The pass, he said, will make the growl Eliminate that have recently occurred at border crossings as travelers are asked to retest for Covid-19, regardless of whether they had a negative certificate with them.

“The harmonization of Covid-19 Fees and the coordinated wait for the Covid-19 results are critical to facilitate business continuity and reduce business costs, “said Dr. Mathuki in a statement on Friday.

His comments came after truck drivers and passengers protested incessant delays at the Busia and Malaba crossings on the Kenya-Uganda border.

Since Christmas Day There were long lines when drivers and passengers were asked by the Kenyan side to repeat Covid-19 tests even if they presented valid laboratory results.

Uganda has been requesting new tests for passengers doing this since October Land arrived. But since December, public health officials have said they have seen increasing cases of new infections coming across land borders.

Mandatory testing

Dr. Henry G. Mwebesa, the country’s director-general for Health Services, announced mandatory testing at all land border points, including Malaba and Busia on the border with Kenya, Elegu (South Sudan), Mutukula (Tanzania) and Mpondwe (DR Congo).

“The Ministry of Health) is also stepping up mandatory testing and case follow-up for all arriving travelers at the top five entry points,” said Dr. Mwebesa.

“The tests are being carried out by the pre-existing private sector, the entry points as the Ministry of Health is building sufficient capacity for the takeover, just as we did at Entebbe International Airport.”

Until now, only a valid negative PCR certificate was required for arrivals over land, which was issued by. an accredited laboratory was obtained in their country of origin.

But despite the new guideline, travelers can There is no clarity as to whether rapid or PCR tests should be carried out. Until last weekend, Uganda travelers who were retested at the border were not giving test certificates, although it charged around 3,600 Sh for PCR tests.

Travelers were not allowed from Kenya without valid PCR certificates, but they would not be able to enter the country without a new test. A PCR test for travelers in Kenya costs around Shn 5,000, even though truckers had paid a subsidized tariff to make travel easier.

Immigration officials on both sides were also under strict instructions not to give them any travel documents approve who had not repeated a test at the border, even if they carried valid laboratory certificates from Kenya with them.

Kenya, for its part, has also imposed travel conditions for travelers from neighboring countries and beyond.

Border crossings

Whether by air or land, no traveler is allowed to enter without a Covid-19 vaccination card in addition to valid negative laboratory results.

Dr. Mathuki said there is a need to expedite a common passport as the Busia and Malaba border crossings on the northern corridor also serve countries outside Uganda.

Some EAC member states had the EACPass as a pilot, but it has to yet to be adopted by all. It is designed to integrate all of the accredited laboratories in the region so that travelers can just carry the documents with them without being charged for a re-examination.

When a passenger takes a test, the results are automatically reduced to one for all Accessible platform uploaded by port health authorities.

“This is intended to build trust in all partner countries, as the certificates are digitally authenticated by all accredited laboratories in the region,” said Dr. Mathuki.

But each of the countries had different policies. In Uganda, private laboratories were used for tests at the border, although there is no tracking of travelers.

In fact, Kenya and Uganda had already registered with the Trusted Travel Service introduced by the African Union in 2020. Health officials at the ports at Busia and Malaba crossings no longer used the service and required travelers to carry printed results with them before retesting.

The passport was issued at a meeting of. approved by the sectoral council of ministers responsible for health held in December, but implementation may take longer.