Authorities in Kenya and Uganda have decided to suspend truck scanning in Malaba-Kenya to clear a 40 kilometer traffic jam that stretches from Malaba to Bungoma towns.
Kenya’s Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, his Ugandan counterpart Katumba Wamala and Uganda’s Minister of State for Trade Harriet Ntabazi led the meeting on Saturday which brought together the two countries’ border agencies at the Malaba-Uganda customs offices .
The meeting agreed that the usual scanning of trucks on the Kenyan side of the border be suspended immediately to expedite the movement of trucks to Uganda where scanning will now only be carried out.
Macharia said the backlog at the border is a major concern for both countries as it negatively impacts trade and health sectors.
“It has been of major concern to us that we have held virtual meetings as ministers at East African Community level, transport level and health level over the past two to three weeks, but these meetings have not borne fruit. This time it was decided that we come here in person to see what is happening in Malaba,” Macharia said.
“The main thing is to ensure that the negative impact of this backlog ceases in the coming days.
By Wednesday, we want this backlog to be cleared for good, which is why we are making sweeping decisions like suspending weighbridges, suspending sweeping, and increasing border manpower. We want to make sure these issues are resolved, along with the more sensitive issues where complaints have been made that drivers have been mistreated on both sides,” added CS Macharia.
Wamala regretted the backlog, saying it is negatively impacting not only the two countries but also other landlocked countries that depend on the northern corridor to transport goods from Mombasa.
“We met with customs, health and immigration officials. We want this backlog cleared by Wednesday. On the Kenyan side, the sweep will not be done because that is part of the problem.
“The scan will be done in Uganda before the truckers can continue their journey. We have also agreed that the verification, which is normally done at the Malaba-Uganda yard, be moved to the ODJ Holding field, which is far from here to minimize clogging.
“We have also agreed that because the clogging is too much on the Kenyan side, we are going to prioritize it in terms of truck movement at a rate of 75% against the 25% time allowed for trucks from Kenya to cross to the east. Uganda,” Wamala said. .
Uganda’s Minister of Commerce, Ntabazi, denounced the high fuel prices in Uganda due to the backlog, noting that with the suspension of digitization, the movement of tankers will now be improved and will force fuel prices to rise. to lower.
“We have set a target for Wednesday. By Wednesday, all trucks, including those carrying fuel, will have entered the country and fuel dealers will not need to raise fuel prices because there will be enough.
Uganda Revenue Authority Deputy Commissioner for Law Enforcement, Julius Nkwasire, revealed that on average, the Malaba and Busia One Stop Border Posts clear about 200 tankers each day, a number which is 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.
This decision forced drivers transporting goods between Mombasa and Kampala to go on strike on 3 January.
The strike lasted 11 days and by the time the boycott was called off, the traffic jam had spread more than 72 kilometers from the city of Malaba.