Kenya, Tanzania amicably resolve border stalemate

Each country will test their own truck drivers and issue them with Covid-19 clearance certificates so that they can be allowed to pass through the border

By Albert Lemomo

The Government officials from Kenya and Tanzania on Friday agreed to ease the flow of long distance truck drivers at the Namanga One Stop Border Post (OSBP) following a trade dispute which was triggered by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Travel guidelines and restrictions rekindled a rankled trade war that has seen both countries impose sanctions on each other and ban trade in certain goods.

Led by Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia the high powered delegation called on their Tanzanian counterparts to ensure that health and safety measures are adhered to.

The officials called on their citizens to focus on the guidelines set out by World Health Organization (WHO) on the fight against the spread of novel coronavirus disease in order to maintain a harmonious trading relations.

“It is fundamental that every truck driver is tested before beginning his journey and issued with a Covid-19 clearance certificate that would be valid for 14 days. Whereby the truck driver will have to undergo another test to ensure that the safety of the traders and customers is not compromised,” CS Macharia said.

Furthermore, the CS further noted that the economic cooperation between the two countries is key to cement the East African Cooperation spirit of excelling and fast tracking development among the two countries.

“Namanga border has created job opportunities and we need to maintain smooth flow of goods between Kenya and Tanzania. The trade partnership has recorded an annual turnover of more than $500 million (Ksh53 billion) over the years,” said Mr Macharia.

Furthermore, the CS alluded that the mobile laboratory testing that will be installed by Monday will speed up testing of truck drivers and reduce any further delay in the movement of goods.

“The new mobile laboratory will be up and running from Monday, with a capacity to test between 500 and 600 samples daily. It will only take five hours for a driver to get the results and thus no congestion at the facility,” he assured the truck drivers.

However, Tanzania Transport Minister Isaac Kamwelwe noted that each country will test their own truck drivers and issue them with Covid-19 clearance certificates so that they can be allowed to pass through the border within the stipulated 14 days.

Mr Kamwelwe added that any truck driver that shall be found to have contracted Covid-19 will be taken back to his country due to different set up of quarantine facilities. “Whereby Tanzania allow self-quarantine and Kenya is within designated facilities,” he said.

East African Business Council Executive Director Peter Mathuki called upon the two countries to embrace cooperation in an effort to cushion trade and battle Covid-19.

He welcomed the diplomatic intervention noting that the disagreement had seen the weekly volume of goods crossing the Namanga border drop to 40 per cent. “It is time to design a coordinated approach and think about recovery process of our economy that has been disrupted by Covid-19,” said Mathuki.

There have been minimal trading activities at the Namanga border since the two countries issued travel guidelines in a bid to protect their nationalities against Covid-19 pandemic.

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