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Business News
The drivers have to sign a coronavirus self-quarantine declaration form at the borders.

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected several industries and economies worldwide.

In Kenya, the trucking industry has been affected following stringent measures issued to drivers.

The drivers have to sign a coronavirus self-quarantine declaration form at the borders.

"I [Driver's Name] having travelled from or through a COVID-19 affected area (specify) and having been advised by Ministry of Health (MOH), commit to undertake self-quarantine for FOURTEEN (14) DAYS," reads part of the coronavirus self-quarantine declaration seen by this writer.

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The drivers’ temperature is also indicated at the top of the declaration form.

Gerald Mutyetumo, CEO of E-Kati Hauliers says they have suspended trucking services because of a reduced number of drivers following the stringent measures.

“We are stopping our trucks because we have nobody to drive them. When a driver comes to Kenya, they are given the form and they commit themselves to 14 days of self-quarantine. When they get home, they must leave the truck and self-isolate. So, we are stranded, we have nobody to drive the trucks,”  Mr Mutyetumo told Standard Digital.

Those who don’t show symptoms will be allowed to cross the border freely and proceed to self-quarantine after the goods reach their destination. However, those with signs of the virus will be quarantined at a Government facility.

“The drivers can still crossover at the borders as long as they don’t show signs and symptoms of having the coronavirus. If you show the slightest signs, you will be quarantined for 14 days at a Government facility at the expense of the transporter,” says Kenya Transporters Association’s Mercy Ireri.

SEE ALSO: Kenya’s Covid-19 cases sniff 2000 mark as 74 more test positive

Upon quarantine of an individual, a transporter will have to take the cost of sending another driver to continue with the journey. The new driver will also undergo screening and the truck must be fumigated before they can proceed.

Mr Mutyetumo also acknowledges that there is need to abide by the law.

“If we tell the drivers to drive back to Kampala, we are breaking the law. We are urging our drivers to self-isolate for the 14 days … Also, if you force the drivers to go to work and they fall sick, you become liable,” added Mutyetumo.

Ms Ireri says the quarantine forms are an administrative procedure by the Immigration Department and Port Health.

Ireri also notes that despite the negative impact on the business, the truck drivers are among the luckiest people because they are able to get multiple coronavirus tests and cases can be detected and addressed early.

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“The truck drivers are the luckiest of all people in this population because they are exposed to multiple screening and testing. It is very easy for one to be detected in good time as long as they are on the highway,” said Ireri.

Self-quarantine regulations

The truck driver is expected to declare the country of departure, countries visited and stop overs made in the last 14 days.

During the 14-day self-quarantine period, the drivers are expected to observe the following:

1. Stay at home and avoid contact with others.

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2. NOT to take public transportation, taxis, or rideshare.

3. If sharing a house with others while on quarantine, they shall contain themselves in a separate well-ventilated room away from other members and use a separate bathroom and toilet. If they must share hygiene and toilet facilities, they shall ensure proper disinfection of the facilities after use using regular household disinfectant soap and water.

4. Not allow visitors into their home.

5. Avoid sharing household items such as toothbrush, utensils, clothes, towels and beddings. The items should be washed thoroughly after use with a disinfectant solution.

6. Frequently disinfect touched shared surfaces that may be contaminated with body fluids such as door knobs, telephones, toilets, bathrooms and sinks with regular household cleaner or disinfectant.

SEE ALSO: Atwoli dismisses claims luncheon defied Covid-19 rules

7. Provide the correct information to the Ministry of Health regarding their health status during the 14-day quarantine period.

8. Immediately notify the Ministry of Health through the toll-free number 719 or 0729-47-14-14 or 0732-35-35-35 when they develop signs and symptoms of acute respiratory illness (Fever or cough or sore throat or difficulty in breathing).

"I have read and understood this statement of commitment and fully understand its purpose, intent and effect. I have voluntarily executed this commitment by action of my own free will. I also understand that it is an offence under the Public Health Act to give false information. By signing this form, I agree to abide by these instructions under mandatory quarantine in a designated facility and/or instituting legal action," read the declaration.

Curfew

The turnaround time has however been affected and trucks are moving much slower than before as trucks are covering smaller distances not being driven at night unless they are in the list exempted from the dawn-to-dusk curfew imposed by the government on Friday.

“Truckers are taking more time to get to their destinations, compared to before the curfew," says Ireri.

On the flip side, the drivers are able to rest for the night.

Although most trucking companies have their own internal policies that do not allow night driving, some simply say that the driver should sleep at 10:00pm and resume work from 5:00am or 6:00am.

“The difference is in timing. The drivers are getting more time to rest now because of the curfew,” says Ireri. 

Border Control

Ireri also lamented on the slow border control saying it is also an essential service and should be working 24/7 (24 hours-a-day and 7 days-a-week).

“Ships are docking at the Mombasa port which runs 24/7. The borders should operate the same way so that there is no shortage of trucks which will lead to slow pick up of cargo and congestion at the port,” says Ms Ireri.

“We have only three port health officers at the Malaba border specifically. Clearance of trucks ends at 1400hrs, meaning we have five dead hours between when the clearance stops and when the curfew starts.  Only 23 trucks are cleared at the border into Kenya in an hour, that is a very low number. The stretch at the border as of today morning (Tuesday) is 26km, with about 1,040 trucks waiting in line for clearance,” added Ireri.

Ireri calls on the Government to boost the number of port health officials and immigration officials to ensure a smooth flow of operations at the border.

“Trucks are spending up to three days to cross the border. That could encourage socialising by the drivers and in turn possibly spreading the virus further. So these measures could be counterproductive as well. What the Government should do is increase the number of port health and immigration officials to make sure that the border works 24/7 and speed up the truck turnaround time,” says Ms. Ireri.


Coronavirus COVID-19 Truck drivers Self-quarantine

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