Kenya and Ugandan authorities have resolved to suspend truck scanning in Malaba-Kenya in as a measure to clear a 40-kilometre traffic snarl-up stretching from Malaba to Bungoma towns.
Kenya’s Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, his Ugandan counterpart Katumba Wamala and Uganda’s State Minister for Trade Harriet Ntabazi on Saturday spearheaded the meeting that brought together border agencies from the two countries at Malaba-Uganda customs offices.
The meeting agreed that the usual scanning of trucks on the Kenyan side of the border be suspended immediately to fast track movement of trucks to Uganda where scanning will now be solely done.
Macharia said the backlog at the border is a major worry to both countries as it has negatively impacted both trade and health sectors.
By Wednesday, we want this backlog to be cleared permanently that is why we are taking hardcore decisions like suspending the weighbridges, suspending the scanning and increasing the labour force at the border. We want to make sure that those issues are addressed and also the softer issues where complaints have been made to the effect that there has been mistreatment of drivers on both sides,” CS Macharia further said.
Wamala regretted the backlog saying it is negatively impacting not only the two countries but also other landlocked countries that rely on the northern corridor to transport cargo from Mombasa.
Uganda Trade Minister Ntabazi decried the high fuel prices in Uganda due to the backlog noting that with the suspension of scanning, the movement of fuel trucks will now be enhanced and force fuel prices to drop.
Uganda Revenue Authority Assistant Commissioner for Enforcement Julius Nkwasire revealed that on average the Malaba and Busia border One Stop Border Posts have been clearing approximately 200 fuel trucks every day which number has since increased to 250 per day.
In December 2021, Uganda introduced mandatory Covid-19 testing for drivers to curb the spread of the Omicron variant. It was also charging Sh3, 600 per test.
The move forced drivers transporting cargo between Mombasa and Kampala to go on strike on 3rd January.
The strike lasted for 11 days and by the time the boycott was called off the traffic snarl-up had stretched to over 72 kilometers from Malaba town.