‘Stop Covid-19 testing at EAC border points’

17Oct 2020
By Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
‘Stop Covid-19 testing at EAC border points’

​​​​​​​AN apex business body of the East African Community has appealed to member states to do away with Covid-19 testing at border points for the region’s economies to quickly recover.

EABC Chief Executive Officer Dr Peter Mathuki.

This follows an intensive three-day tour by East African Business Council (EABC) officials at three border points which found long queues of truck drivers waiting for Covid-19 test results.

The team visited the Busia One-Stop Border Post (OSBP), Malaba OSBP along the Kenya-Uganda border, and Isebania/Sirari post, on the Tanzania-Kenya border.

The aim is to seek sustainable solutions to recurring truck snarls which in the past month disrupted cross border trade, occasioning loss and damage of goods worth millions of shillings.

EABC Chief Executive Officer Dr Peter Mathuki expressed this position in a statement yesterday, noting that various border points are constantly short of Covid-19 reagents and testing kits, thus igniting delays that hurt businesses and stand on the way of economic recovery.

Distressed truck drivers waiting to collect their Covid-19 results are not observing social distancing or putting on protective masks, he pointed out.

“Testing Covid-19 at border points should come to a stop to ease congestion of trucks,” he stated, underlining that the procedure is hindering cross-border trade and reducing trade volumes, “just when the region is struggling to recover from the pandemic.”

The snarls disrupt the flow of goods, increasing operational costs for traders and causing wastage of large volumes of perishable goods, apart from fueling corrupt practices, the statement intoned.

Revoking the procedure will strengthen cross-border trade, making it resilient amidst a welter of shocks expected in future, and boost the competitiveness of East African goods in continental and global markets, he said.

The council’s report released last month on the ‘Impact of Covid-19 on Business and Investments in the EAC and Proposed Recovery Measures for the EAC Economies,’ stated that 56 percent of businesses were affected by new cross border restrictions, noting that about 44 percent of businesses are still struggling to source raw materials to keep the businesses afloat.

EABC appealed for allowing small-scale cross-border traders especially women to freely trade within the border zones, by adhering to Standard Operating Procedures put in place by the health authorities.

EABC members were accompanied by officials of the Kenya government’s EAC Affairs and Regional Development, along with council stakeholders, appealing for mutual recognition of Covid-19 certificates among the partner states.

EAC members should also deploy more personnel from government agencies at border points to facilitate trade, it added.