Tanzania has agreed to Coronavirus testing on drivers crossing into Kenya, ending weeks of grandstanding that threatened trade between the two countries.
The border at Namanga has reopened with controversial demand by Tanzanian government which states that drivers will not wait for results after testing.
Tanzanian spokesperson, and Longido District Commissioner, Frank Mwaisumbe said his country has struck an accord with their Kenyan neighbours on the testing procedures of their truck drivers.
Mwaisumbe, who spoke as Kenyan East African CS Adan Mohammed was meeting with traders, truck drivers, and traders in Namanga said truck drivers from both sides will be tested and allowed to proceed with their journeys without waiting for results.
“We agreed with Kenya that drivers will not waste time at the border after taking tests, but will leave their contacts so that when the results come out they are briefed wherever they are,” said Mwaisumbe on the telephone from Tanzania.
He said drivers who are found to be positive will be apprehended wherever they are and taken to isolation centres on each side of the two countries.
Mohammed, who toured the border of Namanga with PS Kevit Desai, said Kenya had agreed with conditions given by Tanzania but insisted that testing will be done on Tanzanian truck drivers too.
Mohammed said strict measures will be taken to ensure the testing of heavy truck drivers takes the shortest time (24 hours) possible but avoided the fact that if the drivers are released they may spread the infection faster.
Open Up Trade
“The idea is to open up trade between the two countries and try to bring back normalcy. We insist that testing is a must and the health certificates issued to drivers for two weeks is not enough. We will to taste regularly,” said Mohammed.
He said some 100 trucks are cleared at the Namanga border every day and testing of the drivers will equally be hastened to allow free movement of cargo with fewer delays.
“The decision on this new agreement of the re-opening of the border after two weeks of disagreements was reached at the highest levels between Kenya and Tanzania,” said Mohammed.
It was not immediately clear why Kenya accepted the condition given by Tanzanians because there may be positive cases found on the truck drivers.
Peter Juma, a resident of Namanga, expressed worry on the new arrangements and warned that positive cases have been given a direct ticket to Nairobi.
“It takes about four hours for a truck to arrive in Nairobi and maybe at that time, the results will not have come out,” said Juma.