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Government temporarily deploys health officers to help ease congestion at Malaba border

The government has deployed 10 more health officers to speed up the process of testing long distance truck drivers at the Malaba border in Busia county.
This after their vehicles made a traffic tailback extending nearly 50 km as they await the mandatory Covid-19 testing before they cross into the neighbouring country of Uganda.
The team from the Ministry of Health in Nairobi that arrived at the border point on Thursday is expected to collect samples from truck drivers and take them for testing at KEMRI Alupe and Kisumu county.
Speaking during a consultative meeting at the facility, Busia County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri advised the team to consider extending their services to Busia side also experiencing congestion
Kanyiri noted that some of the drivers left their points of origin without being tested and therefore have to be tested at the border.
“The jam stretches from here to Bungoma and beyond,” he said, adding that initially it was four lanes but one has already been cleared.
He stated that the county has two laboratories located at KEMRI Alupe and Busia County Referral hospital.
We cleared the road but the testing is a little bit slow and we are ready to welcome the services you have come to offer with a view to complement us,’ he said.
The County Commissioner stated that the Ugandan authorities had issues with the manual COVID-19 certificates and verification of Lab results from Kenya.
“We had to plead with them to accept what we have as we plan to generate electronic ones,” he said adding that the County also suffered shortage of reagents and test kits.
Kanyiri explained that the stock out has made the health team delay in producing results for those who have been testes.
“We have two lab technologists at both Busia and Malaba facilities who cannot be able to work for 24 hours as we would have wished,” he said.
Bungoma County Commissioner Dr. Abdi Hassan expressed optimism that the presence of the team will hasten the COVID-19 testing process so that smooth trade between Kenya and Uganda can be facilitated.
“We have a lot of hope in you and we wish that you can assist us so that we can quickly overcome this,” he said, adding that the pandemic had negatively affected the country.
Hassan stated that Bungoma residents were worried because the pile up of trucks along the road had paralyzed movement of traffic as well as posing danger because some of the trucks are loaded with hazardous products.
“Because of the presence of trucks on the road, we are also likely to experience incidents of crime,” he said, adding that the situation is diverting the attention of the security team out of the core business.
He urged Busia County Commissioner to ensure that heavy commercial vehicles are not diverted to Lwakhakha border.
“We are experiencing some trucks deviating and that road is meant for low volume capacity,” he said, adding that vehicles with more ten tones capacity are likely to degenerate the situation of the road by making it weak.
The County Commissioner disclosed that Lwakhakha border had recorded two coronavirus positive cases and the facility is currently not operating in full capacity because a number of officers have been taken to quarantine facilities after interacting with the affected persons.
Busia County Police Commander John Nyoike attributed the slow movement of trucks on 300 truck drivers from Uganda who are still waiting for results.
Nyoike requested the team to ensure that the drivers who had crossed to Uganda are also tested on the Kenyan side so that the snarl up can be eased.
He advised the team to link up with their health counterparts at Alupe testing centre so that they can work harmoniously.
“As we are beginning to take samples in Malaba let as also consider extending such services to Busia border because there is almost 20 kilometers stretch of trucks waiting clearance yet the facility only has two health officers,” he said.
The team promised to work closely with the County leadership and ensure that at least 5,000 truck drivers are cleared within seven days.
The facility which receives approximately 2,000 inbound and outbound trucks daily has experienced a pile up trucks for the past four days after a section of drivers barricaded the border exit points over allegations of mistreatment by Ugandan authorities.
By Salome Alwanda

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