Kenya-Uganda transporter’s saga: Importers now pay for COVID tests, not drivers.
Uganda’s Minister of Health has agreed that any future testing costs should be borne by the importers rather than the drivers or carriers.
Kenyan long-distance transporters have called off their strike after Uganda postponed obligatory truck driver testing at its borders after an inter-ministerial meeting of East African Community (EAC) member states on Monday.
To address the present border standoff, a ministerial meeting of the line ministries of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan decided that Uganda should allow all truckers with negative Covid-19 results from member nations to complete their voyage.
“A Ministerial-level meeting conducted on 10 January to settle the deadlock at Kenya’s borders with Uganda determined that the Ministry of Health Uganda recognize Kenya results uploaded in the Regional Electronic Cargo and Drivers Trucking System (RECDTS),” according to the meeting statement.
The ministers decided during the meeting that Ugandan authorities should offer free antigen testing for all drivers now stuck in traffic to alleviate the congestion, which is projected to last 7 days, but the reality on the ground will determine the time required to remove the backlog.
The four ministers also agreed that all countries should adhere to existing EAC norms and that Uganda should not return to a 72-hour validity period for results until all EAC members had discussed and agreed on it.
“All nations concur that fully vaccinated drivers’ negative findings should be valid for 14 days and that a follow-up meeting will be convened on January 14th, 2022 to examine the situation,” added the statement.
Following the foregoing concessions, the Kenya Transporters Association Limited (KTA) notified its more than 5,000 striking members to continue their trip.
“While acknowledging the terrible conditions and suffering that our drivers face, we urge that everyone halt the strike but stay alert as we monitor the execution of the resolutions,” KTA chairman Newton Wang’oo stated.
“As we continue to engage stakeholders, we would want to urge transporters and drivers to continue their travels and pass the borders into Uganda.”
The truckers have been on a silent strike since early this month, when they parked their trucks and blocked the road to the Kenya-Uganda border, vowing not to cross into Uganda until the government harmonises their positions, eliminates the $30 Covid-19 test charges, or abolishes mandatory testing, as the other EAC states have.