Arusha — Movement of car-go trucks has finally resumed across the Tanzania/Uganda common border after weeks of uncertainty following brawls over Covid-19 test for truck drivers.
The move follows a consensus reached by the two neighbours after cross border movement was disrupted by Covid-19. Truck drivers will, nevertheless, undergo mandatory Covid-19 tests in line with the East African Community (EAC) guidelines.
The guidelines were enforced across the region as among the restrictions to curb the spread of the killer virus.
However, the restrictions imposed to tackle trans-border spread of the disease only wanted minimal disruption of cross border trade.
William Mkenda, a customs officer in charge of the Mutukula border post in Tanzania, said the two countries have agreed on mandatory Covid-19 tests.
He revealed this on Thursday when briefing the EAC deputy secretary general in charge of Planning and Infrastructure Steven Mlote, who visited the border area.
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The EAC delegation led by the deputy SG was at Mutukula to make an assessment of traffic movement in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak, blamed for dealing a major blow to economic activities.
The team from the Arusha-based regional organization is expected to review the progress of the joint efforts by Tanzania and Uganda to ease congestion at the border crossing.
Mr Mkenda informed the deputy SG that the Covid-19 testing requirements for truck drivers were meant to ensure that health risks associated with the coronavirus were mitigated.
The EAC delegation also met and held discussions with the truck drivers at the border in a bid to assess the challenges encountered when crossing the border.
During the discussions, some of the drivers registered their dissatisfaction with the way they were treated in implementing new measures put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr Mlote told the truck drivers that ministers and Permanent Secretaries responsible for Trade, Health and EAC Affairs have held meetings and issued guidelines on how the truck drivers should be facilitated on their cross border operations as Partner States enforce measures to fight Covid-19.
The DSG emphasised the need to sensitize people against stigmatization of Covid-19."Parameters have been set, places where the testing should take place and modalities of how it should be carried out has been agreed upon by the Partner States' governments. It is only implementation that is varying from one country to another," he said.
He disclosed that EAC issued administrative guidelines for uniform implementation of measures to allow free movement of cargo as envisaged under the EAC Common Market Protocol.
"The EAC Secretariat has been at the forefront of ensuring that the region is prepared and ready to deal with epidemics, pandemics, disasters and events of public health interest.