Kenyan truckers not ‘gravely’ affected by Ebola lockdown in Uganda

Trucks along the northern corridor in Busia County. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenyan truckers have not been affected by the Ebola-imposed lockdown in two districts in Uganda as the outbreak of the deadly disease continues to spread in the neighbouring state.

The Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) says it is, however, keenly following the development in Kampala and the next step of action by the authorities in Uganda.

Chief executive Mercy Ireri said that apart from increased screening at the border, Uganda is yet to impose far-reaching measures that may impact the flow of goods.

“Kampala has been put on high alert by President Yoweri Museveni and we are keenly following the development there to see if there would be another course of action that may impact us,” said Ms Ireri.

More than 20 people have died in Uganda, including four health workers, since the outbreak was first announced in early September. The cases in Kampala have been rising to stand at 13 on Sunday.

Ugandan authorities have recorded more than 1,100 contacts of known Ebola patients, according to the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. The latest outbreak is of the Sudan strain of the virus, for which there is no approved vaccine.

Bars, nightclubs, places of worship and entertainment venues were closed in Mubende and the neighbouring Kassanda district where a 21-day lockdown and curfews have been imposed. Restriction on the operation of trucks along the corridor could negatively impact the movement of goods as Uganda is the main entry point for cargo moving to South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Uganda, the largest client at the Mombasa port, accounts for 83 percent of the cargo that passes at the facility, followed by the DRC, Tanzania and Rwanda at 7.2, 3.2 and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Any blockade on the movement of cargo at the Ugandan border points will hurt the Mombasa port, which will be unable to clear goods meant for the Great Lakes countries, and also lead to the diversion of goods to other regional ports.

The restriction, should it be imposed, will see shippers opt for the central corridor, which runs from the Dar es Salaam port to DRC.

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