THE East African Business Council (EABC) has hailed initiatives by President John Magufuli and his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta and consequent ministerial agreements on the free movement of goods across borders.
The regional apex body of private sector associations and corporates said it appreciated the reconciliatory move that buried a border crisis that had loomed large between biggest regional economies.
Kenya’s decision to close her border with Tanzania over Covid-19 pandemic fear sparked a standoff, with the latter’s Regional Commissioners whose territories share borders with Kenya reciprocating by closing key gateways Namanga, Holili and Horohoro in Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Tanga respectively.
But following high level talks between Pres- ident Magufuli and Kenyatta, the two nations on Friday resolved the dispute over Covid-19 tests for truck drivers crossing their borders, facilitat- ing trade within and outside the EAC bloc.
The dispute was resolved by ministers re- sponsible for transport from the two countries at the end of their one day meeting held recently at Namanga One-Stop Border Post (OSBP), responding to orders from the two presidents.
EABC Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Peter Mathuki said here yesterday that appreciating the move, the body was as well urging for quick implementation of the outcomes of the bilateral ministerial meeting.
A key outcome of the bilateral ministerial meeting is to have truck crews being tested before commencement of their journeys at the point of origin using World Health Organisation (WHO) standards and be issued a 14 days Covid-19 free certificate by competent authorities that shall be mutually recognised.
“This is a commendable mea- sure as it will reduce the clearance time of cargo at the borders given that transport and logistics facilitate intra-EAC trade,” said Dr Mathuki who is a former East African Legis- lative Assembly (EABC) member.
Following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, EAC partner states have relied on sourcing final products, intermediate input and raw materials within the region due to the disruption of the global supply chain.
The EABC urged for quick implementation of the joint com- munique of the bilateral meeting in a bid to boost intra-EAC trade and investments and reiterated its com- mitment to the EAC regional integration agenda.
The ministers agreed that truck drivers from both sides will be tested for Covid-19 before commencement of their journeys at the point of ori- gin using standards set by WHO.
The two countries agreed that tested truck drivers should be issued with a 14-day Covid-19 free certificate by competent authorities, which should be mutually recognised by the two countries, said the communique.
They also agreed that each country should create conducive places where the truck drivers can stop for a rest and that such places should be equipped with necessary amenities.
They agreed that the two countries should undertake random Covid-19 screening at the designated resting places, said the communique, adding that the screening should be done in a transparent manner.
It was also agreed that in case of one of the truck crew being found to be at high risk of Covid-19, the owner of the truck will be allowed to replace all the crew before the truck can be allowed to proceed.
The two countries agreed to release to the public data on the status of Covid-19 without mentioning the nationality of the infected.
Tanzania was represented by Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Engineer Isack Kamwelwe, while Kenya was rep- resented by Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works, Mr James Macharia.