Kenya subjects foreign truck drivers to mandatory border test for coronavirus
London, April 28, 2020 (AltAfrica)-A large queue of traffic stretching as far as 40km (25 miles) is building up at the Kenya-Uganda border as truck drivers await mandatory coronavirus testing.
The East African neighbours are each other’s biggest trading partners.
The border towns of Malaba and Busia, where the congestion has been centred, are crucial routes for the transport of goods
Five truck drivers tested positive for Covid-19 after crossing into Uganda, prompting the Kenya government to initiate the mass testing of them.
Locals are worried some drivers could potentially spread the virus, because as they await the testing, they freely mingle in the shopping centres and villages in search of supplies, accommodation and company.
It’s a nightmare for both truck drivers and the locals on the Kenyan side of the border. The trucks have occupied one half of the road from the border, with the tailback now approaching Bungoma town, some 40km (25 miles) away.
Some drivers have complained of fatigue and the slow pace of the testing, and have questioned why it is not done around the clock.
Kenya’s ministry of health said on Monday it will send more medical personnel and test kits to the border to increase the speed of testing.
But things could get a lot more difficult for Kenyan truck operators, with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni set to issue new guidelines on testing later on Tuesday.
President Museveni had identified land borders and lorry drivers as the next battle front in tackling the coronavirus
Meanwhile, Kenyan truck drivers and transport companies have protested a decision by the Ugandan government to stop them at entry points and make them hand over to Ugandan drivers.
The proposal will see Ugandan drivers deliver the cargo to its final destination within the country or hand it over to another driver in case the truck is still on transit.
The decision follows a spike in the number of foreign truck drivers testing positive for Covid-19. This has raised fears that while Ugandans have been locked in their homes, foreign truck drivers have become the real threat to efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.