Uganda has committed to conduct free Covid-19 rapid tests at the Kenya-Uganda border points of Busia and Malaba for seven days to ease intra-EAC trade on the Northern Transit Corridor.
Currently, over 4,500 trucks have stalled at the two border posts due to the mandatory Covid-19 testing requirement introduced by Uganda on December 20, 2021.
The move follows a joint multi-sectoral virtual meeting of the Ministers/Cabinet Secretaries responsible for East Africa Community (EAC) Affairs, Health and Transport convened by the EAC Secretariat on Monday.
The meeting noted that this was a deviation from the 14 days Covid-19 testing period, previously agreed at the regional level and monitored through the Regional Electronic Cargo and Drivers Tracking System (RECDTS).
During the meeting, the multi-sectoral ministers agreed that partner states always notify each other in case of any deviations from the agreed protocols relating to measures against Covid-19.
Adan Mohamed, Chair of the EAC Council of Ministers welcomed the move which he said will smoothen the movement of goods and services across the border points.
“This will mitigate the impact on movement of goods, persons, workers and services across the region,” Mohamed said.
The joint multi-sectoral meeting further directed partner states to recognise certificates from accredited/national recognised laboratories with a validity of 14 hours for fully vaccinated truck drivers and 72 hours for unvaccinated truck drivers moving goods across the region. This, they said will mitigate future recurrence of the border traffic impasse.
Further, they agreed that partner states should implement the EACPass to fast-track verification of Covid-19 test results.
“The EACPass is a system that integrates all EAC partner states’ negative test results for Covid-19 and those vaccinated, and can be easily accessed on mobile phone,” said Dr. Peter Mathuki, EAC Secretary General.
Mathuki added that this is set to ease the turnaround time at border points.
It’s worth remembering that the 21st Meeting of the Sectoral Council of Ministers responsible for Health held on December 10, 2021 approved the EACPass as a regional platform to facilitate movement of all travelers in the region and beyond.
The same meeting also directed EAC partner states to facilitate the implementation and use of the EACPass as a platform for quick verification of Covid-19 test certificates and vaccination status for travellers.
CS Mohamed said that a follow-up meeting to review the situation will be held on Friday, 14th January, 2022 to further deliberate on regional Covid-19 measures to ease movement of persons and flow of goods in the region.