FROM today onwards, Tanzanian and Kenyan truck crews will undergo testing before commencement of their journeys at the point of origin as per World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
The drivers will then be issued with a 14-day Covid-19 free certificate by competent authorities, which shall be mutually recognised.
These are among the outcomes of a day long-locked ministerial bilateral meeting between the two countries held at the Namanga One Stop Border Post (OSBP) yesterday.
Delivering a communiqué, Works, Transport and Communication Minister Engineer Isack Kamwelwe said residents of the two countries should be left free to trade while adhering to health precautions to prevent further spread of the killer virus.
“The drivers will be tested again once the certificates expire to facilitate their exit from either Kenya or Tanzania,” he explained.
According to Engineer Kamwelwe, the test will be made available in all regional hospitals in the country.
“Instead of spending much time at Namanga as they wait for the test samples to arrive from either Nairobi or Dar es Salaam, the drivers could easily drop by the hospitals for the tests before embarking on their journeys,” observed the minister.
The two countries also agreed to gazette conducive places where the truck drivers can stop for a test. Such places will be equipped with necessary amenities.
He added: “This disease shouldn’t leave us to starve to death; we need to work and engage economically for the prosperity of our countries.”
In the joint communiqué, Tanzania and Kenya agreed that the tests should be done in a transparent manner.
“In case one of the vehicle crew is found to be at high risk of Covid-19, the owner of the vehicle shall be allowed to replace all the crew and the vehicle allowed to proceed,” agreed the two countries.
The two East African neighbours also agreed to release public data on Covid-19 status without mentioning the nationalities of those infected.
The disaggregated data will be submitted to the competent authorities through diplomatic channels for necessary measures.
The two East African neighbours will also have the mobile labs donated to them by the Federal Government of Germany in testing the drivers and other people crossing the borders.
On his part, Kenyan Transport Cabinet Secretary Dr James Macharia described the bilateral meeting as an important step in cementing the two countries’ long standing relationship.
“The disease truly disrupted our trading patterns and put our $500m/- trade volume in serious jeopardy, which is why the meeting was done in the spirit of brotherhood,” he said.
On Wednesday, President John Magufuli and President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the ministers responsible for transport to meet for talks in search for a solution on the imposed restrictions at border areas.
The meeting of the two ministers involved regional commissioners whose territorial areas border Kenya. In this sense, Ms Anna Mghwira (Kilimanjaro RC), Mr Mrisho Gambo(Arusha RC) , Martin Shigella( Tanga RC), Mr Adam Malima( Mara RC) and John Mongella ( Mwanza ( RC) attended the meeting.
Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East Africa Cooperation, Ambassador Colonel Wilbert Ibuge, was given the task by President Magufuli to ensure talks were held.
Likewise, provincial leaders from Kenya whose territories border Tanzania were also involved in the meeting.