Transport

Transporters call for easing of Covid curbs to boost trade

trucks

Trucks queue to enter Mombasa port. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Logistics players in East Africa want governments to ease Covid test protocols in the wake of a decline in positivity rate and vaccination rollout across the region.

The stakeholders urged health officials across East Africa states to allow fully vaccinated drivers to only present 14 days negative PCR tests when crossing borders as a means of reducing Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).

“Many countries in the world have adopted this system and we view it as the best way forward under the prevailing circumstances. We should allow drivers tested within 14 days to cross the borders to reduce congestion,” said the Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) chairman Newton Wang’oo.

The transporters’ association with more than 5,000 members in a statement addressed to Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan authorities said Covid-19 protocols ought to be eased to boost cross-border trade.

The Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations (EAFFA) president Fred Seka had earlier asked EAC partner states to slacken Covid-9 protocols to ease congestion at border points.

“We need to urgently revise the Covid-19 protocols, especially at the borders before they mutate into a non-tariff barrier of trade,” Mr Seka said.

“Many countries in the world have adopted this system and we view it as the best way forward under the prevailing circumstances,” Mr Wang’oo said.

Truck drivers’ representative, Roman Waema said they have undergone a lot of challenges at the borders while on transit, and called for the easing of Covid-19 containment measures as more drivers are vaccinated.

The positivity rate in Kenya according to official data was at 0.1 percent from a sample size of 3,956 last week.

Cumulative tests by Tuesday stood at 3,403,120, total confirmed cases at 323,075 with recoveries being 303,352.

More than 7.6 million adults in Kenya were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as of March 1, 2022.

In Nairobi, around 1.4 million people have completed immunisation, the highest number among Kenyan counties.

Overall, roughly 16.7 million doses of the Covid vaccine, including first and second doses, were already distributed in Kenya.

All the other countries in the region have also reported a significant reduction in the positivity hence the need to revise the border crossing protocols and facilitate trade among the partner states.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) Kenya has also conducted infection, prevention and control training for Covid-19 benefiting more than 200 frontline workers at various Points of Entry (PoEs) and provided personal protection equipment for 27 POEs, including Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

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