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JPM, Uhuru amicable talk heralds smooth cross-border trade

POST Covid-19 life has begun with smooth trade across Tanzania-Kenya borders after the East African Community (EAC) partner State leaders- Dr John Magufuli and Uhuru Kenyatta initiated a diplomatic gesture.

In sight, the regional apex body of private sector associations and corporate - East African Business Council (EABC) has confirmed that the initiatives by the two leaders were paying with witnessed resumption of smooth trade between the two countries.

Commenting on the flourishing business, EABC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Peter Mathuki, said yesterday that agreements struck at a bilateral meeting of ministers from both sides at Namanga, following the presidential talks are commendable for they have reduced the clearance of cargo at the frontiers.

"The sustainable way to combat the Covid-19 as a region was to deploy an EAC coordinated approach and also economic recovery strategy. If partner states of the EAC work in isolation on Covid-19, it will be costly and take us longer to flatten the curve," pointed out Dr Mathuki, who is also a former East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) member.

At the meeting, the leaders resolved that truck crews first be tested using World Health Organisation (WHO) standards in their countries of origin and issued with a 14-day Covid-19 free certificate that one would show during one’s journey into another state.

Dr Mathuki also lauded the EAC partners for the increased intra-trade in the bloc, where member states have taken to sourcing final products and raw materials in wake of the disease that was disrupting global business supply chain.

"The EABC appreciates President John Magufuli of Tanzania and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya for reiterating their commitment to the EAC regional integration agenda," said the CEO.

It was President Uhuru, who phoned his Tanzanian counterpart for amicable talk as trade tiff between the two neighbors escalated over Covid-19 testing at the borders.

In the course, the leaders agreed and directed their officials to meet at Namanga on May 22, where they resolved to facilitate a seamless cross-border movement of goods and people to end the stand-off that had led to sanctions imposed on both sides’ merchandises.

However, the ministers agreed that each country should create conducive places where the truck drivers could stop for a rest and that such places be equipped with necessary amenities.

They also agreed that the two countries undertake random Covid-19 screening at the designated resting places, said the communique, adding that the testing be done in a transparent manner.

The parties equally resolved that in case of a truck crew tested positive of the disease, the owner of the truck would be allowed to replace the team that would also be screened and their journey allowed to proceed.

At the same time, they reached a consensus to release to the public data on the status of Covid-19 without mentioning the nationality of the infected person.

Tanzania was represented by Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Engineer  Isack Kamwelwe, while Kenya was represented by Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works, Mr James Macharia.

Dr Mathuki said that the Namanga one-stop border post remains a strategic entry point for East and Central Africa and termed the diplomatic intervention a positive gesture.

Through its 'EAC Administrative Guidelines to Facilitate Movement of Goods and Services During the Covid-19 Pandemic', the EAC Secretariat urged EAC partner states to treat truck drivers and crew, who test positive for Covid-19 in the host partner state, rather than deport them to the country of origin as that would result in further spread of the disease.

The Secretariat called on partner states to enforce mandatory screening or testing of truck drivers and their crew at border posts, and as well undertake mobile monitoring during transit at selected inland points.

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Author: DEUS NGOWI

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