• The drivers are expected to part with $65 (Sh7,039) to get tested for Covid-19.
• The country recorded 212 new positive cases, pushing the caseload to 34,705.
Kenya through the EAC ministry has initiated diplomatic talks to solve the cargo standoff at the Busia and Malaba borders.
The move follows reports that the Ugandan government has issued new directives requiring all truck drivers entering the country through Busia and Malaba to undergo another Covid-19 test irrespective of whether they possess another from Kenya.
Effective September 1, truck drivers have to part with $65 (Sh7,039) to get tested for Covid-19, a move that will push up the already high cost of transport and doing business in the region.
The Ugandan government has reversed its earlier decision for free testing of truck drivers and facilitation of the movement of goods.
The new development has caused a traffic snarl-up at the border points, with the queue in Malaba stretching about 20-30 kilometres into Kenya, as drivers await clearance.
Kenyan trucks and drivers account for 87 per cent of transit movement between Mombasa and the hinterland.
Per previous agreements between EAC member states, all truckers were supposed to undergo a Covid-19 test in their country of origin prior to commencement of their journey.
“Something may have happened to move Uganda to that position. We shall be able to know in due time what the issues are and I am sure there will be discussions and dialogue,” Health CAS Rashid Aman said on Thursday.
But inquiries by the Star indicated Uganda has resolved to charge for tests after Kenya failed to efficiently execute the exercise on its end, thus becoming overburdened by Kenyan drivers seeking services from the Ugandan side.
“From time to time this Covid-19 testing and clearance procedures have created some level of discordance between our neighbouring countries. If you recall we also had an issue with Tanzania at some point but these are matters that require diplomatic approach and discussions to be able to solve them.”
The CAS noted that the issue if not addressed with urgency might lead to high costs of trade.
“Nobody desires to have their cargo held up for so many days. Some of this cargo is perishable and at the same time when drivers are held up, the risks of transmission are also high and this is not something that any country would want to see,” Aman noted.
The country recorded 212 new positive cases, pushing the caseload to 34,705. All were Kenyans except 14, comprising 132 men and 80 women aged between one month and 76 years.
The new cases were from a sample size of 3,937 conducted in 24 hours. The cumulative number of tests conducted so far is 463,499.
“We need to appreciate that we have done quite well in reaching this number of tests. We had discussions for the Africa region in the early stages through the AU and the Africa CDC and that time the targets for testing for African nations was one per cent of the population, which in our case is about 500,000. So we are very close to that target,” he said.
Four more patients succumbed to the virus, bringing the number of fatalities to 585. However, 195 patients recovered from the virus, 141 from the home-based care programme while 54 were discharged from various hospitals across the country, bringing the number of recoveries to 20,644.
Nairobi continues to lead in the number of new cases after registering 96 more infections, followed by Mombasa with 21, Kiambu 11, Busia with 10, Uasin Gishu and Laikipia nine, Taita Taveta and Narok eight, Machakos and Nakuru seven, Kilifi and Lamu six each, Kajiado four, Bomet two, Bungoma, Kericho, Kwale, Migori, Murang’a, Nyeri, West Pokot and Meru recorded one case each.
The CAS toured Homa Bay county to assess the level of preparedness to handle Covid-19. The county has so far set up 317 beds in nine isolation centres across the county.