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LONG-DISTANCE DRIVERS

Kenya, Uganda authorities meet to resolve truck drivers standoff

The drivers say they have been denied access to hotels, branded corona carriers.

In Summary

• Interior CS Fred Matiangi and Transport CS James Macharia are expected to meet their Uganda counterparts amid rising concerns of verbal and physical harassment of the drivers.

• Over 4,000 drivers had camped on the highway over delayed testing by the Uganda authorities.

A photo of the traffic jam created by the long-distance truck-drivers in Malaba.
A photo of the traffic jam created by the long-distance truck-drivers in Malaba.
Image: COURTESY

Ministers from Kenya and Uganda are expected to have a meeting amid efforts to find a lasting solution to challenges facing truck drivers at the border points.

Interior CS Fred Matiangi and Transport CS James Macharia are expected to meet their Uganda counterparts amid rising concerns of verbal and physical harassment of the drivers.

Principal Secretaries from either side in the respective ministries held a meeting with the drivers on Monday but they demanded to meet with the ministers before the standoff is resolved.

 
 

The truck drivers have been camping on the Malaba, Webuye highway causing a major traffic snarl-up stretching for over 50 km.

According to the drivers, they have been stuck in the traffic for seven days now protesting what they termed harassment by the Uganda military.

“As we speak, we have been denied access to hotels, we have been forced to look for alternative means to survive,” Erick Bakari, one of the drivers said.

“What is even sad is that the residents on the other side have been incited against us, they stone us on grounds that we have corona.”

Mohamed Moyo said the reason they demanded to meet the ministers is to find a lasting solution to their woes.

He said over 4,000 drivers had camped on the highway over delayed testing by the Uganda authorities.

Tumekesha hapa siku saba sasa. Waganda hawatuheshimu, wanatuona sisi sio binadamu. Hatuna maji wala mahali pa kwenda haja ndio maana tusema mawaziri wetu waje washauriane na wenzao wa kule Uganda ili tatizo hili lisuluhishwe,” Moyo said.

 
 

(We have been camping here for 7 days now. Ugandans don’t respect us, they see us as no humans. We have no water or place to relieve ourselves and that is why we want our ministers to meet with their counterparts on the Ugandan side to find a solution to these challenges).

Last week operations at the Malaba One-Stop Border Post were suspended after the truck drivers blocked Kenya’s exit to Uganda.

The suspension came two weeks after Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers Association Secretary-General Nicholas Mbugua called on Kenyan drivers to stop going into Uganda.

The cargo transporters are protesting harassment and discrimination by Ugandan authorities.

Their Malaba chairman Kenneth Okeyo demanded that a Kenyan truck driver allegedly detained in Uganda be released and allowed to return to seek treatment for Covid-19.

The driver, Okeyo said was being held by Malaba Uganda Port Health officials.  

Earlier on, the Ministry of Health announced an expansion in testing capacity to all counties to enable truck drivers to be tested for Covid-19 from the point of origin of their journey.

The truck drivers in the latest agreement arrived at by EAC member states requires that they produce a Covid-19 free certificate at border points.

At least 18 truck drivers have tested positive for the disease.


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