Covid-19 testing hitch holds cargo at Malaba and Busia

Medics testing Kenya Ports Authority staff for Covid-19 in Mombasa on April 19, 2020.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The regional business lobby urged East African Community member states to restock the reagents quickly to avoid further delays in clearance.
  • The delay has seen more than 2,400 trucks destined for Uganda stuck, a move that has disrupted cross-border trade with serious ramification on the economy of both countries.

A shortage of Covid-19 testing reagent at the Malaba and Busia borders has affected movement of goods between Kenya and Uganda, with lorry traffic stretching over 30 kilometres from the crossing point.

Currently, the backlog of trucks headed to Busia border starts at Mundika town, 15 kilometres away, while congestion at the Malaba border post is exceeding 30 kilometres, according to the East African Business Council (EABC).

The regional business lobby urged East African Community member states to restock the reagents quickly to avoid further delays in clearance.

EABC and the Ministry of EAC also asked countries to embrace electronic Covid-19 certificates that are issued on the digital platform, which was established recently to minimise delays occasioned by demand for a second testing.

Trucks wait to enter Uganda at the Malaba border on April 29, 2020.

Photo credit: File | AFP

“It is critical for transporters in the region to embrace the recently launched Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System to improve the truck outturn and allow partner States to electronically share truck drivers' test results, minimising need for multiple Covid-19 tests in a single trip,” said Peter Mathuki, chief executive EABC.

The delay has seen more than 2,400 trucks destined for Uganda stuck, a move that has disrupted cross-border trade with serious ramification on the economy of both countries.

 According to EABC, most Ugandan truck drivers are travelling without Covid-19 certificates with plans of being tested at the borders, thus the increase in demand of reagents having exceeded supply leading to delays.

Bottleneck

The bottleneck threatens trade between the two countries, which is rebounding with Kenya’s exports to Uganda standing at $88 million as at August 2020, a jump from $53.9 million in the same period last year.

Kenya’s key imports from Uganda include milk and cream, tobacco, cane, electrical energy and plywood among other goods. 

On the other hand, Uganda’s imports from Kenya include palm oil and its fractions, iron or non-alloy steel, petroleum oils and salt among other goods.

 gandae@ke.nationmedia.com