The setting up of three Covid-19 testing centres in Kenya for truck drivers has eased the movement of goods to the neighbouring countries of Uganda and Rwanda, cutting the delays witnessed in the recent past.
The country has opened up testing facilities in Miritini, Mai Mahiu and at the Nairobi Inland Container Depot in order to speed up the testing and clearance of truck drivers.
The move has seen drivers get their Covid-19 negative certificates at these points, enabling them to avoid delays at the border points as it has been the case before.
When Uganda introduced stricter measures on Covid-19 recently, it took truck drivers a long time to get clearance at the Malaba and Busia borders, leading to a huge traffic snarl-up as the drivers had to undergo numerous checks before getting clearance.
The move had a negative impact on the delivery of goods as the multiple checks to get Covid-19 clearance led to delays.
“Clearance at the border is now faster as the truck drivers get their certificates in any of the three testing points in Kenya, meaning that they no longer have to queue at the border for clearance,” said Dennis Ombok, chief executive officer of the Kenya Transporters Association.
Mr. Ombok said goods are now being cleared on time, minimising delays that had been witnessed in the last couple of weeks.
Uganda has been battling a third wave of the Covid-19, forcing the country to impose strict containment measures in order to curb the spread of the virus. The government, however, lifted some of the restrictions recently.
East African Community and the private sector were concerned that the Covid-19 related Non-Tariff Barriers has been a hindrance on cross-border trade due to different measures on Covid-19 in the region as tests are priced differently in each EAC partner state, while containment measures vary.
Tanzania and Burundi charge a standard $100 for both nationals and foreigners while the other partners’ charges vary. In Rwanda, it is $50 for the test and $10 for specific logistics to the airport.
East African Business Council (EABC) is urging for lowering and harmonisation of Covid-19 related charges in the East African Community, in a bid to ease the cost of doing business and boost intra-EAC trade.
Kenya’s authorities say the Moyale One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) remains operational despite the ongoing political upheavals in Ethiopia that have seen the country announce a state of emergency. A customs official in Kenya’s northern region said the border point with Ethiopia has not been officially closed and that business is going on as usual.
A backlog of ships waiting to offload goods at the key ports around the world is threatening to disrupt the supply chain in East Africa ahead of the Christmas festivities. East Africa relies on imports from China as its largest source market for the bloc’s imports, followed by India and the United Arab Emirates.
African ports are facing a challenge in handling a new generation of ultra-large container vessels due to lack of sufficient infrastructure and shallow berths that hinder bigger ships from calling to these harbours.