The East African Business Council (EABC) is now calling upon the East African Community Partner States to put an end to testing of COVID-19 at border points, in order to decongest them and increase intra-EAC trade.
This follows EABC’s intensive 3-day visits at the Busia One-Stop Border Post (OSBP), Malaba OSBP and Isebania border, aimed at seeking sustainable solutions to reduce recurring trucks snarl-ups which have in the last one month disrupted cross border trade and led to loss/damage of goods worth millions of shillings.
EABC CEO, Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki noted that various border points are facing a constant shortage of COVID-19 reagents and testing kits. In addition, distressed truck drivers awaiting and collecting their COVID-19 results are neither observing social distancing nor putting on protective masks.
The snarl-ups are also disrupting the flow of goods thus increasing operational costs for traders, causing wastage of volumes of perishable goods and fueling corruption cases.
“Testing COVID-19 at border points should come to a stop to ease congestion of trucks which is hindering cross-border trade and reducing trade volumes, just when the
region is struggling to recover from the pandemic,” said Dr. Mathuki.
Dr. Mathuki also added that the move will strengthen cross-border trade making it resilient in the face of future shocks and boost the competitiveness of East African goods in the continental and global markets.
According to a report released by EABC in September, 2020, titled, ‘Impact Of COVID- 19 on Business and Investments in the EAC and Proposed Recovery Measures for the EAC Economies,’ 56% of businesses have been affected by cross border restrictions since the pandemic hit the EAC bloc. 44% of businesses are still struggling to source raw materials to keep their businesses afloat.
EABC is also calling for small-scale cross-border traders especially women, to be allowed to trade with adherence to Standard Operating Procedures put in place by the Ministries of Health.
The East African Business Council accompanied the Ministry of EAC Affairs and Regional Development of Kenya and various private sector stakeholders during the border visits and calls for mutual recognition of COVID-19 certificates among EAC Partner States and deployment of more personnel from the government agencies to facilitate trade.