Long distance truck drivers are appealing to the Ministry of Health to re-examine the negative economic impact of the current Covid-19 re-testing period of 14 days and adjust it accordingly.
The drivers who spoke to the press at the border town of Malaba said the two-week period is becoming uneconomical as most of them spend over 14 days travelling between Mombasa and their respective foreign destinations.
They said their Covid-19 certificates expire before they return to Kenya hence they are forced to spend about Ksh.7000 especially in South Sudan and Uganda to re-test.
“Two weeks is a very short period. We are appealing to the Kenyan Government to introduce a system where drivers are tested after 30 days and not 14 because some of us spend 14 days travelling to Kampala, Kigali or Juba.
“I tested in Mombasa and my certificate is almost expiring, yet I have not even crossed the border. Testing itself is not easy. Some of the drivers nose-bleed a lot when their samples are taken hence putting their lives at risk.” Alex Wambua who transports cargo between Mombasa and Kampala recounted.
He further explained that if the cargo he is transporting to Kampala will take two days to offload, he will be forced to carry out the test at a higher cost in Uganda because his certificate will have expired.
Seneta Mwashumba whose destination is Juba echoed Wambua’s sentiments arguing that border agencies should be tasked to explain the cause of the long truck jam stretching to over 20 kilometers from Malaba despite many drivers having Covid-19 negative certificates.
“For instance I have already tested, I have a certificate and my truck has been cleared. Unfortunately I have not been allowed to proceed with my journey for the last three days.
“Let the border authorities come out and explain to transporters why vehicles are not moving.”Mwashumba said.
He disclosed that there are drivers who spend 11 days between Mombasa and Bungoma before joining the queue where they have to spend another four days.
The drivers who blamed corruption among border agencies charged with clearance at Malaba One Stop Border Post said if movement of trucks across the border is hastened there will be no jam and they will reach their respective destinations before the two weeks elapse.
On September 1, Uganda introduced a Coronavirus testing fee of approximately Sh 7000 to a special category of people including truck drivers after authorities felt overburdened by drivers avoiding long waiting time in Kenya.
At the time samples in Kenya took up to three days before the results are out yet in Uganda it took between 8 to 12 hours.
By Melechezedeck Ejakait