Cross-border trade at risk due to scarcity of testing reagents
By Fredrick Obura | October 14th 2020
The East African Business Council (EABC) is calling for mutual recognition of COVID-19 certificates among East Africa Community (EAC) the Partner States and restocking of reagents at border posts, to minimize traffic snarl-ups at the Busia and Malaba border posts.
Currently, the traffic of trucks headed to the Busia border starts at Mundika town, 15 kilometers to the Busia border while the traffic snarl-up to Malaba border post is exceeding 30 kilometres.
With about 55 trucks stalled per kilometre, this implies that more than 2,400 trucks destined for Uganda are still yet to be cleared. A move disrupting cross-border trade and costing the economy.
During a joint mission with the EAC Ministry and various private sector stakeholders at the Busia One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) and Malaba OSBP, the regional Business Council noted that most Ugandan truck drivers are traveling without COVID-19 certificates with plans of being tested at the borders. The increase in the demand for reagents is also reported to have exceeded supply, hence delaying the testing.
EABC is urging East African Partner States to provide adequate reagents at the Border Points to accommodate the testing demand.
Speaking in Busia OSBP, EABC CEO Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki called for a regional coordinated approach in implementing EAC Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for truck drivers and a joint border collaboration in addressing the long truck queues and COVID-19 related issues.
“It is very critical for transporters in the region to also embrace the recently launched Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System (RECDTS) to improve the truck turn and allow partner states to electronically share truck drivers' COVID-19 test results thus minimizing need for multiple COVID-19 tests in a single trip.
EABC is also calling for cargo trucks to be weighed at the loading point and the next One-Stop Border Post (OSBP).
Intra EAC trade is rebounding with Kenya’s exports to Uganda standing at $88 Million as of August 2020, a jump from $53.9 million in the same period last year. Uganda exports to Kenya stood at $46.9 million as of August 2020 a slight decline from $48.3 million shillings recorded last year.
Kenya’s key imports from Uganda include milk and cream, tobacco, cane electrical energy, and plywood among other goods. On the other hand, Uganda’s imports from Kenya include palm oil and its fractions, iron or non-alloy steel, petroleum oils, and salt among other goods.
Dr Mathuki also called for a regional multi-sectoral approach in addressing food safety concerns, with a key focus on the enhancement of lab testing capacities to detect Aflatoxin at Border points and increase sensitization of the business community and other stakeholders on the dangers of Aflatoxin.
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