Continued free movement of goods and the management of cross-border spread of Covid-19 were top on the agenda in yesterday’s meeting of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State and government.
In the virtual meeting convened by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the current EAC chairperson, the leaders agreed to prioritise the implementation of measures that will ensure uninterrupted cross-border movement of goods even as the region continues to battle the coronavirus.
The leaders included presidents Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Salva Kiir (South Sudan). They acknowledged the challenge posed by cross-border trade in the fight against the pandemic, especially the emergence of truck drivers as a high-risk carrier population.
The Heads of State therefore tasked their respective State agencies responsible for health, transport and EAC affairs to roll out border screening and testing measures, especially for truck drivers that do not compromise cross-border movement of goods.
President Kenyatta emphasised the need for collective EAC interventions against the pandemic.
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“A unified stand is what we need to combat this pandemic in the region,” President Kenyatta said, adding that contact-tracing had helped Kenya to isolate and treat those infected by the virus.
“We continue to actively enforce contact tracing, which has proved to be very effective in identifying those who have come into contact with infected persons.”
The leaders expressed satisfaction with measures taken so far by regional governments in managing Covid-19 and thanked the EAC Secretariat as well as the Council of Ministers for ensuring the region is able to minimise cross-border spread of the virus.
They urged member states to prioritise local production of essential supplies needed to combat Covid-19.
The presidents urged EAC countries to invest more in agriculture, agro-processing and value addition to act as an import substitute in this period when global trade is suppressed.