Kenyan truck drivers want clearance of cargo destined for Rwanda and Tanzania at the Mombasa port suspended after the two countries locked them out due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The transporters, who had signed agreements with their clients in Rwanda and Tanzania, have protested what they term relay driving and called on the Kenyan government to stop cargo clearance until the issue is resolved.
“If the two governments are not going to suspend their decisions, then no cargo should leave Kenya because of security and safety of goods that would be compromised in the relay driving change over by drivers,” said the Kenya Transporters Association Chief Executive Dennis Ombok.
In a video conference meeting with local stakeholders and Kenya’s Principal Secretary for East Community Affairs Kevit Desai yesterday, the association petitioned the two governments to rescind the decision. “How do you hand over a truck carrying cargo worth millions of shillings to a third party? If the two countries proceed with the arrangement, no cargo will be loaded to Uganda or Rwanda,” said Mr Ombok.
Uganda and Rwanda introduced relay driving regulations to prevent the spread of coronavirus, even as health officials in Kenya continue random testing for long-distance truck drivers.
The arrangement requires a driver to take cargo to a border such as Busi, where the truck is sanitised and handed over to a driver on the Uganda side to move the cargo to its destination or border of transit.
Rwanda Revenue Authority announced that it would not allow foreign truck drivers to ship goods into its country from April 27, adding that on-board cargo and conveyors would be offloaded before crossing into the country. Offloading warehouses are at the entry points of Kagitumba and Rusumo entry points.
Ugandan Health Minister Robinah Nabbanja announced on Friday that the government had asked transport companies to recruit drivers to take over cargo trucks at the border points. The announcement was made after some truck drivers who entered through Busia and Malaba borders tested positive for Covid-19.
In its petition, the association said relay driving would require members to engage multiple drivers across regional borders. “This would require new drivers’ recruitment and increase the cost of transportation to the trucking companies, while business has been affected due to reduced cargo volumes and longer transit times,” reads the document signed by the association’s Chief Operating Officer Mercy Ireri.