Kenya and Uganda have taken steps to expedite the clearance of trucks at Malaba border to reduce the traffic caused, especially on the Kenyan side, and allow for transport of essential goods to Uganda and other countries.
The border was congested for weeks with traffic stretching over 70 kilometres following a protest by Kenyan truck drivers over Uganda's move to implement mandatory testing at its border and impose a charge of $30 for the test.
Although Uganda suspended the testing, the traffic jam created by the drivers’ strike has taken more than a week to clear.
More measures were needed to speed up the clearing of trucks as Ugandans struggled over the last one week to get fuel, whose price has increased tremendously.
Hundreds of trucks have been cleared at the border, but for a border post such as Malaba which clears over 1,000 trucks daily, it is still a tall order to clear the thousands of trucks still on the queue.
On Monday, authorities took more measures such as suspension of scanning outbound cargo from Mombasa at the Kenyan side of Malaba.
Abel Kagumire, the Uganda Revenue Authority Commissioner for Customs, said that following a meeting with revenue officials on the Kenyan side, they agreed to suspend scanning to help clear the backlog.
Transporters had earlier complained that they were spending a lot of time at the scanning point.
“It takes 10 minutes for each truck to be scanned, causing delays at Malaba where 80 percent of cargo to Uganda, South Sudan, DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi is handled,” said Isaiah Ojilong, a clearing agent at Malaba, Kenya.
In Uganda, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja suspended the weighing of cargo by the Uganda National Roads Authority. Uganda has also diverted empty trucks and those carrying empty cargo containers to Lwakhakha border post, about 50km north of Malaba. Kenya has also diverted some cargo to Busia to decongest Malaba where a four-week impasse saw long lines of trucks packed on the Kenyan side.
Mr Kagumire said the measure has reduced congestion at Malaba One border post.
“[On Sunday] we cleared 54 trucks. Today (Monday) by midday, we had cleared 22 Ugandan and transit trucks to DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan,” he said.
Addressing talks organised by Trademark East Africa and the East African Business Council at the border town, Mr Kagumire said, “By Wednesday, there will be no backlog.”
The Chief executive East African Business Council, John Bosco Kalisa, proposed preferential treatment of goods produced within the region.
“Create green lanes for goods produced within EAC to boost intra EAC trade,” he said.
“Intra-EAC trade in comparison to other regional blocks is still below 20 percent and this has partly been attributed to the various non-tariff barriers, inadequate product diversification, restrictions and competition from products originating from outside the East African bloc.”