October 7, 2020

Rwanda-bound Cargo Trucks Stuck as Kenya Runs out of COVID-19 Testing Kits


Last week, this was the situation at the Busia border, one of two major entry points, as drivers wait to go through different regulations including the COVID-19 tests and weighbridges

There are more than 3,000 cargo trucks bound for Rwanda and others regions currently stuck at Uganda-Kenya border as of Wednesday.

It is the latest in a series of crisis that have hit the Kenya-Uganda border entry points in less than two months. The new trouble is because Kenya has run out of COVID-19 testing kits, according to reports.

Back in May, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda struck a deal in which cargo trucks from Mombasa and Kenya, headed to the neighbors would only be tested once. The certificate would be valid throughout.

However, in late August, Uganda changed tact, requiring that the truck drivers obtain a Uganda Health Ministry certificate at the border. The problem is that the COVID-19 test would cost $65 (Rwf 62,600).

As a result more than 50km of trucks piled up at the Kenya border inside Kenya. The new certificate essentially added an unexpected cost on the drivers. They vowed to resist paying for the Ugandan test.

To get around the new Ugandan regulations, truck drivers ignored the new Uganda COVID-19 test, and instead preferred to be tested at Kenyan border side where the tests were free.

However, now according to truck drivers stuck at the Malaba border, Kenya has not been doing any testing since last week because it doesn’t have testing kits and reagents.

Media reports from Malaba and Busia borders – biggest entry points, say trucks are lined up to 70km on the Malaba border while more than 30km of trucks are stuck on Busia border.

Some of the truck drivers have been at the border waiting for their tests results since as far back as September 25.

All the regional neighbors require that only truck drivers with negative results will be allowed into their territory.

The thousands of cargo trucks now blocked at the Kenya-Uganda border are headed to Uganda, Rwanda and Goma in DR Congo through Rwanda.

More than 80 percent of Rwanda’s imports come in via Tanzania, volume which increased significantly following the ongoing cold war between Kigali and Kampala.

Rwanda last month began importing cement from Kenya to cover a huge hole of thousands of tons needed to complete the ongoing construction of 22,000 classrooms.

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