Truckers blame slow Covid-19 testing for Malaba traffic

Monday January 17 2022

Trucks at Webuye in Bungoma County, Kenya, making their way to the Kenya-Uganda border at Malaba on January 17, 2022. PHOTO | BRIAN OJAMAA | NMG


Long distance truck drivers along the northern corridor highway have blamed the slow Covid-19 testing at the Kenya-Uganda border in Malaba for the snarl-up.

Truck traffic is currently stretching about 130km from Malaba in Busia County to Lwandeti in Kakamega County, Kenya.

The traffic jam has persisted despite last week’s decision by the Ugandan government to suspend a $30 Covid-19 testing fee.

Uganda had introduced the charge in late December for all truckers passing through its land borders, leading truckers coming from Kenya to strike, arguing that the fee is discriminatory and exploitative.

A meeting was then called by the East African Community officials seeking a solution.

The truck drivers leaving Kenya for Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo and South Sudan then called off the strike on Tuesday last week after 11 days.


The truckers told journalists on Monday said that they want more health officials deployed on the Kenyan side of the border to conduct rapid Covid-19 tests on the truck drivers crossing into Uganda.

Mr Mohamed Salem, a truck driver ferrying petroleum oil from to Eldoret to Tororo, said that introducing rapid testing for coronavirus and increasing the number of health personnel testing the samples will lead to more trucks being cleared to cross the border per day.

Mr Juma said that as drivers they had expected the queue to have cleared after the Kenyan and Ugandan government agreed over the matter last week.

“This jam that has now stretched for about 130 kilometres is now on its third week yet we knew that it would soon be over after Ugandan government agreed to heed to our demands,” he said.

Mr Patroba Soita, a resident of Webuye, urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to ensure more medics are deployed at the border to assist in the clearing of the cargo.

Webuye West MP Dan Wanyama said residents of Bungoma County are at a high risk of contracting Covid-19 due to the jam.

“We want President Uhuru to speak with his Ugandan counterpart to see the stalemate is resolved,” he said.

The MP said that driving from Eldoret to Malaba has become hectic and the one-and-a-half-hour journey can take up to eight hours.

“We have had a number of accidents that have claimed several lives due this congestion by trucks and we need this menace resolved once and for all,” he said.

The Malaba border normally clears between 600 and 1,000 cargo trucks every day.

Only truckers with valid coronavirus negative test certificates are allowed to cross the Malaba border.

Those with expired certificates are required to be tested at the border and are then allowed to proceed with the journey after receiving Covid negative results.

Truckers who test positive for the coronavirus are isolated.

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