Uganda, under President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s, has intervened following a series of protests staged by Kenyan truck drivers and their counterparts from other East African nations.
The drivers were up in arms over a directive that rejected Covid-19 tests done outside Uganda and further ordered them to pay Ksh3,500 prior to being allowed to enter the country.
In an intervention plan, Museveni’s government has now listed health facilities and testing laboratories across the region where the drivers drawn from Kenya and other East African regions will undergo tests.
File image of long-distance truck drivers lining up in Busia County before crossing into Uganda.
“The tests must have been done from the attached list of approved laboratories in the region,” the letter stated in part.
Henry Mwebesa, Uganda’s Director General of Health Services, stated in a letter dated January 6, that the decision was arrived at after an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja.
The directive by top Ugandan officials was later shared with all administrative units including Tororo, Busia, Amuru, Rakai, Kabale, and Kasese Districts.
This was interpreted as an interim step in order to address the issue of backlogs and protests that have caused unrest at the border point.
The order was effected on Saturday, January 1, affecting many truck drivers and other businesspeople using Uganda’s border points.
The drivers refused to pay the required Ksh3,500 to Ugandan authorities in order to be allowed to cross the border.
“The East African Community member states agreed that drivers who have been tested in any member state be given a certificate whose validity is 14 days, and that those with valid certificates are free to move within the EAC region,” Kennedy Osia, the chair of Skyward Clearing and Forwarding Company, stated.
“Uganda has betrayed this agreement by unilaterally introducing a mandatory charge of Ksh3,500 whether the truckers have valid certificates.”
The drivers from the Malaba border point complained about the directive stating that they have been frustrated by Ugandan authorities.
“What we are witnessing here is discrimination because you can be tested here in Kenya and then when you get there you are informed that it is not valid.
“What used to happen is that once you had been tested, you could travel to Uganda and back using the same certificate,” Chrispinus Omose, one of the truck drivers stated.
Some even castigated the Ugandan government for reportedly rejecting their certificates even when the results were negative.
Trucks by Seven Stars Company on a road in Kenya.
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