Ugandan authorities have finally started clearing cargo truck crews with negative Covid-19 test results taken within 72 hours, to transit through the country.
Uganda also agreed to recognise PCR test results from Kenya as long as they are carried out in one of the EAC Secretariat’s recognised laboratories.
A statement issued by Uganda’s Director of Health Services, Dr Henry Mwebesa, said the new measure will help clear the backlog of cargo at its borders following a strike by drivers that began on Monday.
“As an interim measure, Uganda government agreed to clear all truck drivers and their accompanying staff with negative Covid-19 PCR results taken in 72 hours,” Mwebesa wrote to district health officers in border districts.
The measure was adopted by Uganda’s interim ministerial meeting chaired by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja.
With the move, Kampala seems to be bowing to pressure from logistics and transport industry players to harmonise its Covid-19 testing modalities with other East African Community (EAC) member states.
Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of EAC Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, was tasked to work with the bloc’s secretariat to harmonise the Covid-19 modalities.
Experts at the EAC secretariat are expected to make recommendations on the $30 charge Uganda imposed for Covid-19 testing at its points of entry, irrespective of whether the drivers have valid test certificates.
The drivers complained that Uganda was drifting away from the 2020 EAC agreement that truckers tested for Covid-19 in any member state be given a certificate whose validity is 14 days, and that those with valid certificates are free to move within the EAC region without requiring further testing.
The truckers, who began the silent strike on Monday, parked their trucks and sealed off the road, vowing not to cross into Uganda until the government harmonises their positions, scraps the Covid-19 test charges or scraps the mandatory testing like the other EAC states.
Kampala also said that to avoid delays and reduce forgery of test results at the borders, EAC member states should reactivate The Regional Electronic Cargo and Drivers Trucking System agreed on by member states.