Kenyan long distance transporters have called off their strike after Uganda suspended the mandatory testing of truck drivers at its borders following the East African Community (EAC) member states inter-ministerial meeting on Monday.
A ministerial meeting of the line ministries of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan held to resolve the current impasse at borders agreed that Uganda should allow all truckers with negative Covid-19 results from member countries to continue with their journey.
“Resolution by Ministerial-level meeting held on 10 January to resolve the impasse at Kenya borders with Uganda resolved that Ministry of Health Uganda to recognise Kenya results uploaded in the Regional Electronic Cargo and Drivers Trucking System (RECDTS),” reads the communique from the meeting.
In the meeting, the ministers agreed that Ugandan authorities to immediately conduct antigen tests for free to all drivers currently in the jam to ease the backlog which is expected to last 7 days but the reality on the ground will guide the period needed to clear the backlog.
The four ministers also agreed that all countries to follow the current EAC protocols and that Uganda should not revert to 72-hours validity period of results until all EAC countries have discussed and agreed on the same.
“All countries confirm that fully vaccinated drivers should have their negative results valid for 14 days and that a follow up meeting is to be held on 14th January 2022 to review the situation,” said the statement.
Uganda’s Minister of Health also agreed that any cost on testing in future should not be paid by the drivers or transporters but by the importers.
Following the above concessions, the Kenya Transporters Association Limited (KTA) sent communication to its more than 5,000 members who were on strike to resume their journey.
“While appreciating the difficult circumstances and hardship that our drivers go through, we request everyone to end the strike but remain vigilant as we monitor the implementation of the resolutions,” said KTA chairperson Newton Wang’oo.
“We wish to advise transporters and drivers to proceed with their journeys and cross the borders to Uganda as we continue to engage the stakeholders.”
The truckers have been having carrying out a silent strike since early this month where they parked their trucks and sealed off the road to the Kenya-Uganda border, vowing not to cross into Uganda until the government harmonises their positions, scraps the $30 Covid-19 test charges or scraps the mandatory testing like the other EAC states.