A permanent solution must be found for trucks snarl ups at border points

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An aerial view showing how trucks heading to Malaba had created a massive clog. Photo/Courtesy

The bureaucratic challenges Kenyan and other regional long distance truck drivers seeking to cross over to Uganda to deliver goods in the region are facing due COVID-19 checking protocols are now posing risks to those drivers and to the residents of Bungoma and Busia Counties living along the Eldoret-Malaba Highways as they approach the Border Points of Malaba and Busia.

We reiterate that it is not acceptable, it is bad governance, for those responsible for managing the two border crossings of Busia and Malaba on both sides of the divide in Kenya and Uganda in the name of strictly enforcing the cross-border COVID-19 checking protocols to aggravate the risk of spreading the same COVID-19 in the vicinity of their border point areas of operation.

It is incumbent upon the two Border Point Government officials of both countries to design seamless systems, mechanisms to carry out the COVID-19 checks so that trucks are timed to arrive, handle manageable numbers and with clear time sequences as to how long it will take to attend to each truck.

Yes if it means the trucks not leaving, Mombasa, Nairobi-Eldoret until there is a reduction of the backlog and also only timed to take the shortest time at the Border point. It is now shambolic, chaotic, a mess that is an eyesore making usage of the Highways by other motorists impossible or a nightmare.

And how many testing kits are there on both sides of the Border? How efficient, capable, in the right shifts are the personnel handling the COVID-19 protocols? The Cabinet Secretary for Interior, Mr. Fred Matiangi, the Cabinet Secretary for Health Mr. Mutahi Kagwe, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport Mr. James Macharia, the Cabinet Secretary for East African Community Mr. Adan Mohammed ought to physically tour this two Border posts and make first hand assessment of the challenges being experienced and consult with their Ugandan counterparts to address the problems, find solutions for a seamless border crossing operations and COVID-19 infections don’t shift from one country to the other, and more importantly innocent residents along the Highways leading to the Border Points and at those living at the Points are not exposed to the risks of COVID-19.

East African trade must be facilitated by all means but not at the risk of exposing the innocent residents of the counties next to the Border crossing points. The County Commissioners of Bungoma and Busia Counties must, as the issue here involve the National Government, take urgent measures to mitigate the dangers the long queues of long distance trucks parked on the Highways for days on end pose to the people of the region. It is self-evident the County Governments are helpless and their pleas to the National Government have yielded no emergency response.

The last resort if the pathetic state of affairs at the Border points and the Highways leading there persist with no emergency solution is for Civil Society, the Law Society of Kenya to go to court and halt the chaotic clearances at the Border point, the departure of trucks from Nairobi until a solution that is safe, efficient is put in place. Bungoma, Busia and Kakamega Counties need to wake up and defend themselves from the risks the long distance trucks border pile up is posing in regards to COVID-19.