More than 100 Kenyan lorries have been impounded by Tanzanian authorities at the Isebania border since Tuesday, renewing tension between the two countries over the truck drivers’ Covid-19 status.
On May 22, Kenya’s Transport CS James Macharia and his Tanzanian counter part, Mr Isack Kamwelwe, signed an MoU to grant truck drivers from their country entry into each other’s country, as long as the drivers presented their Covid-19 test results and certificates to health authorities at the border posts.
On June 2, however, tension rose again after Tanzanian authorities refused to recognise the Kenyan truckers’ Covid-19 test results, which had been issued by health authorities in Arusha and Mwanza.
Mr Anthony Juma, one of the truck drivers, said officials from Tanzania’s Immigration office said they had been ordered not to let the Kenyans through.
Mr Ndirangu Ndungu, another driver faulted Kenyan Immigration officials for not intervening even after they lodged a complaint at the Isebania Customs office.
On Monday, the frustrated drivers threatened to stage a protest, with Mr Wilson Ngige appealing to the government to intervene speedily since some of the cargo they had included highly perishable goods like fish, and that they risked incurring heavy losses.
“Since last Tuesday, the officials have been telling us to wait as they sort out the issue,” added Mr Sammy Muchina.
Migori County commissioner Joseph Rotich told the Nation on phone that the government was working on the matter, but gave no details.
Attempts to reach the county Immigration officer at the Isebania border point, Mr Bernard Rotich, were fruitless.
Last week, Longido District Commissioner Frank Mwashumbe accused Kenyan authorities of denying Tanzanian drivers entry into the country and promised to retaliate, adding, it had been agreed that the drivers be tested in their respective countries.
He said there were plans to establish a dry port at Namanga border from which Kenyan truckers could collect goods.