Long distance trucks line up along the Amagoro-Malaba Highway as they wait to cross the border to Uganda.Image: EMOJONG OSERE
A trade disruption is looming between Kenya and Uganda as Kenyan truck drivers contemplate boycotting cargo destined for the neighbouring country.
This is to protest against what they term as “harassment and discrimination” by Ugandan authorities at the Malaba and Busia border points, which have been affected by massive delays in the past one month over coronavirus checks.
Yesterday, Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers Association, Secretary-General Nicholas Mbugua called on Kenyan drivers to stop going into Uganda.
According to Mbugua, Kenyans are denied access to basic needs such as food, water, and accommodation once they are in Uganda, making it difficult to smoothly transit and deliver cargo.
He said Kenyan drivers are perceived to be having coronavirus even after testing negative and allowed to move.
“Our drivers are being harassed so what I am saying is, stop going into Uganda. Let them come for their own cargo,” Mbugua said yesterday.
“Who said Ugandans cannot have the virus? We are going to stop going into Uganda until the two governments agree on how to address these issues,” he added.
There are at least 600-1000 heavy commercial trucks along the Northern Corridor which links Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and DR Congo to the Port of Mombasa.
Logistics firm-Kobo360 yesterday confirmed clearance for its clients’ consignments has dropped.
“The mandatory coronavirus testing at the Kenya-Uganda border has reduced clearance for Kobo360 truck drivers of essential goods to less than 50 per cent,” Country Manager(Kenya), Dennis Koome told the Star.
The Malaba border has in the past two weeks witness a stretch of 30-40 kilometers into Kenya as drivers await clearance into Uganda.
If truck drivers cease operations, it will hurt imports and exports in and out of the hinterland where Uganda accounts for 83.2 per cent of transit cargo through the port of Mombasa.
South Sudan takes up 9.9 per cent while DR Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda account for 7.2 per cent, 3.2 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively.
Yesterday, the Kenya International Freight Forwarders Warehousing Association(KIFWA) warned further delays are going to cause cargo pile up at the Port of Mombasa.
According to Kifwa national chairman Roy Mwanthi, truck time turn around has been affected where drivers are taking up to two weeks to make a Mombasa-Kampala round trip.
This is from the record three days which had been achieved in recent times on reduced non-tariff barriers.
The cost of transport, import, and export is also likely to shoot, Mwanthi warned.
Currently, it costs an average $2,100 (about Sh223,440) to move a 20-foot container from Mombasa to Kampala.
“We are also staring at an increase in demurrage because containers are being dumped in Uganda for lack of labour. Ships are being forced to wait which comes with a cost,” Mwanthi told the Star on phone.
He has called on both governments to increase driver testing points along the corridor and issue them with a 14-day certificate to reduce congestion at the border.
“Unless this is done, we are going to have a problem,” he said.
Credit: The Star