Trucks from Kenya with good headed to Rwanda and on to eastern Congo are stuck at the Uganda border as drivers protest new cost for COVID-19 test.
At the same time, truck drivers using the Busia border, one of two major Uganda-Kenya entry points, are decrying extortion by Kenyan Police. Border officers reportedly require each driver to pay them bribe of 2,000 Kenya shillings ($19 or Rwf 18,100).
In June, the drivers held a press conference at which they made public their concerns. They petitioned Kenya Police chief to intervene, but it seems no action has been taken.
As for the new Covid-19 tests prices, the Uganda government last week issued new costs to take a new test at its border for all truck drivers. This is contrary to an agreement reached by east African community leaders of having a single test from country of origin.
In this case, the truck drivers were expected to have only the Kenyan certificate, which would allow them to drive into or through Uganda. However, now Uganda requires them to take another test at its border before being allowed through.
The leadership of the Regional Lorry Drivers and Transporters Association-RLDTA has called the decision “inhumane”, and said it is likely to cause more harm than good. They say this is an unnecessary non-tarrif barrier on what should be smooth travel within the region.
On Tuesday, the Ugandan Health Ministry started charging truck drives Uganda Shillings 240,500 for COVID-19 tests or Rwf 64,000.
Other categories that will pay for the test include; Ugandans who want to know their COVID-19 status, travelers entering the country and organizations.
At the moment, though more than 80% of Rwanda’s imports enter via the Tanzania route, a considerable amount still comes in through the Kenyan Mombasa route.
As of this Wednesday, reports from the Malaba border say trucks running for nearly 50km are stuck on Kenyan side as drivers have refused to pay the new Ugandan Covid-19 test.
The transporters association is hoping that regional leaders can intervene to help solve the impasse.