Confusion surrounded the mandatory Covid-19 tests for long-distance truck drivers over what transporters said was exorbitant charges.
Some of the truck drivers claimed they were being charged Sh6,000 per test in order for them to get clearance to transport cargo to the neighbouring countries.
Individual transporters confirmed they had paid Sh6,000 per driver to the Mombasa County government’s department of health. “I have already paid Sh6,000 for my driver for the test but this is very expensive,” protested Abubakar Awes, who asked the government to lower the charges.
The order for the mandatory test took effect on Monday although Kenya Transport Association (KTA) chief executive officer Dennis Ombok said they will seek to negotiate the charges.
“We wonder why we have been asked to pay Sh6,000 for each driver to be tested and yet residents of Mombasa County are getting the tests for free.
We are asking government to scrap these charges as they are quite punitive, yet transport has been listed as an essential service during this period of Covid-19 disease,” Ombok said.
There was confusion on Monday when more than 100 drivers gathered at the Mombasa county’s Miritini dispensary but no medical workers were available to conduct the tests.
However, the county’s Communications Officer Richard Chacha said they have written to KTA asking them to provide a list of drivers to be tested but KTA has not done so.
The lorry drivers ferry cargo across East Africa. In a month, they are required to take two tests, and the results are valid for 14 days.
The first test costs Sh 6,000 with subsequent tests being charged at Sh 2,000 each.