The Republic of Uganda has committed to conducting free Covid-19 rapid tests at the Kenya-Uganda border points of Busia and Malaba to clear the truck traffic snarl-up that has disrupted intra-EAC trade on the Northern Transit Corridor.
In a press statement, Ms. Rebecca Kadaga, the 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Community Affairs, in the cabinet of Uganda said, “The council of Ministers of the East African Community has taken a decision to permit cost-free testing at Busia and Malaba for 7 days to clear the backlog of trucks and drivers who have been packed on the Kenya side.”
The decision was reached in a joint multi-sectoral virtual meeting of the Ministers/Cabinet Secretaries responsible for EAC Affairs, Health and Transport convened by the EAC Secretariat.
Over 4,500 trucks had stalled at the two border posts due to the mandatory Covid-19 testing requirement introduced by Uganda on 20th December 2021.
The meeting noted that this was a deviation from the 14 days Covid-19 testing period, previously agreed at the regional level and monitored through the Regional Electronic Cargo and Drivers Tracking System (RECDTS).
The multi-sectoral Ministerial 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 the movement of goods, persons, workers, and services across the region,” said Hon. Adan Mohamed, Chair of the EAC Council of Ministers and Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of East African Community and Regional Development, Kenya.
To mitigate the 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 with a validity of 14 days for fully vaccinated truck drivers and 72 hours for unvaccinated truck drivers moving goods across the region.
The 21st Meeting of the Sectoral Council of Ministers responsible for Health held on 10th December 2021 approved the EACPass as a regional platform to facilitate movement of all travelers in the region and beyond and also directed the EAC 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.
CS Mohamed said that a follow-up meeting to review the situation will be held on Friday, 14th January 2022 to further deliberate on regional Covid-19 measures to ease movement of persons and flow of goods in the region.