The government has urged truck drivers to refrain from barricading roads to air their grievances and instead advised them to embrace diplomacy.
This comes four days after long distance truck drivers blocked the exit point at the Malaba border post over allegations of harassment and mistreatment by Ugandan authorities.
Addressing the press after clearing the four trucks that had been used to block the exit point on Tuesday, the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP), Noor Gabow said that a few drivers and vehicle owners decided to block the free flow of vehicles from Bungoma to Malaba across the border.
“The Travel Act is very clear that these vehicles cannot be parked for more than 15 minutes,” he said adding that such drivers were causing obstruction by parking unlawfully.
Gabow warned that such drivers risked being charged with unlawful parking and economic sabotage.
“Some of the vehicles in front here have had their tyres deflated while others have disconnected the wiring system,” he said, adding that it took his team of engineers up to four hours to unlock them.
He added that the government will deal firmly with those inciting truck drivers and vehicle owners to engage in such acts of lawlessness.
“I want to assure Kenyans that the government is committed to ensure that there is seamless flow of vehicles along this Northern Corridor,” he said.
The DIG further said that the security team will arrest more than 10 truck drivers and cancel their licenses for having blocked the road.
“Right now our priority is to unblock the road and ensure that that there is free movement across the border,” he said.
Gabow also explained that there are laws and regulations to be followed instead of engaging in acts of hooliganism.
“We have not arrested any driver because they have all run away due to fear of being attacked by other drivers. Therefore we are just appealing to them to come and take their vehicles,” he said.
He pointed out that the stalemate has affected both Kenya and Uganda negatively in terms of revenue loss.
The Busia County Commissioner (CC), Joseph Kanyiri stated that the County Security team has tried to use diplomacy to convince the truck drivers for four consecutive days to unlock the road in vain.
Kanyiri added that the government has now resorted to using its machinery to ensure that the road is unblocked to allow smooth trade between Kenya and Uganda.
“We are asking those drivers whose vehicles have been blocked to avail phone contacts of the owners of those vehicles so that they can proceed with their journey,” he said adding that there were few drivers out to incite others.
He expressed confidence that his team will take between two to three days to clear the road.
The striking drivers have rendered the road impassable hence paralyzing both transport and trade within the busy border town.
Both local political and religious leaders have expressed fear of possible spread of coronavirus through the interaction between the long distance truck drivers and the community.
The Teso North MP Oku Kaunya said the unfortunate delays of crossing the border by truck drivers was exposing the lives of the local residents to risks of infection.
The Malaba Central MCA, Benard Papa thanked the DIG and his team for the swift intervention to restore normal operations across the border.
The operation that lasted for around four hours was carried out through heavy presence of security officers from Western region, General Security Unit and a team of Engineers from Nairobi.
By Salome Alwanda