Arusha. Uganda government has intervened in the trade impasse crisis at its border with Kenya.
In an attempt to ease the truck traffic snarl-ups, the country will conduct free Covid-19 tests for seven days.
The snarl-up of hundreds of trucks carrying goods continues to disrupt trade between the two countries and beyond.
The swift intervention by the Kampala authorities follows Monday’s virtual ministerial meeting of East African Community (EAC) partner states.
It was hastily convened for the EAC Affairs, Health and Transport ministers/cabinet secretaries to address the crisis.
As of yesterday, over 4,500 trucks have stalled at the two border posts (Malaba and Busia) due to the mandatory Covid-19 testing requirement introduced by Uganda last month.
The meeting noted that this was a deviation from the 14 days Covid-19 testing period, previously agreed by all countries at the regional level.
The 14 days Covid-19 testing period was to be monitored through the Regional Electronic Cargo and Drivers Tracking System (RECDTS).
Monday’s meeting agreed that the partner states should always notify each other in case of any deviations from the agreed protocols relating to measures against Covid-19.
“This will mitigate the impact on movement of goods, persons, workers and services across the region,” said Adan Mohamed, the chair of the EAC Council of Ministers and Kenyan cabinet secretary for EAC Affairs.
To mitigate future recurrence of the border traffic impasse, the joint multi-sectoral meeting further directed the partner states to recognize certificates from accredited/national recognized laboratories.
The certificates in question should have a validity of 14 hours for fully vaccinated truck drivers and 72 hours for unvaccinated truck drivers moving goods across the EA region.
It was further agreed that the six member countries in the bloc should implement the EACPass to fast-track verification of Covid-19 test results.
“The EACPass is a system that integrates all EAC partner states’ negative test results for Covid-19 and those vaccinated,” said the EAC secretary general Peter Mathuki.
He added that the results which can be accessed on mobile phones will ease the turnaround time at the border points.
In December last year, the EAC Sectoral Council of Health ministers approved the EACPass as a regional platform to facilitate movement of all travelers in the region and beyond.
It directed the partner states to facilitate the implementation and use of the EACPass as a platform for quick verification of Covid-19 test certificates and vaccination status for travelers.
The bone of contention behind the Kenya/Uganda border snarl-up has been the Covid-19 testing charges which the lorry drivers objected to, saying it was too high.