Truck drivers in neighbouring Kenya have petitioned the Government of Uganda to review its proposal to enforce relay driving for all trucks entering the country, as an effort to combat the spread of Covid19.
Uganda is currently exploring this option, in which trucks coming into the country will be stopped at the border and picked up by Ugandan drivers to their destination in the country, or to the next border point if transiting.
President Yoweri Museveni yesterday instructed Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng to present this proposal to the East African Community Ministers of Health.
However, Kenyan Drivers under the Kenya Transporters Association Limited (KTA) have opposed this move and asked the government of Uganda to drop it.
In a statement, the association said while they appreciated Uganda’s efforts to fight the spread of Covid19, this measure would be too costly and impractical.
“While, we as Kenya transporters Association do agree with the resolutions of the Uganda Government Trade and Transport National Task Force Sub-committee on usage of designated stops, same journey plans, no diversions of trucks from designated routes, one driver per truck and use of PPE’S, we hereby petition the Uganda government to review its position of the proposed relay driving,” they said in their statement.
Among others, the Kenyan drivers argue that trucking companies would be forced to hire and train new drivers which would “drastically increase the cost of transportation to the trucking companies while the business has been affected due to reduced cargo volumes and longer transit times.”
“Transporters would also incur additional expenses in providing accommodation for additional drivers.”
The drivers further noted that the security and safety of the cargo would be compromised by multiple drivers involved in a single haulage and that truckers would face challenges in tracing driver’s responsibilities on trucks misuse, damages and theft of fuel.
“This would raise the challenges with regards to Insurance as any accident or theft would likely be challenged by the insurance companies.”
As such, the Kenyan drivers asked Uganda to implement the option of having all drivers tested at the border point and have them await their results before being allowed in the country.
“Drivers found to be Covid-1 9 Positive should be put in isolation as guided by WHO regulation and the transporter be informed to make arrangements for another driver to undergo the Covid-19 test and proceed with the journey.”
This testing proposal however has been described by Ugandan authorities as untenable because of the high costs of rapid testing kits which go for as much as $65 each.
More than 2000 truck drivers come into the country each day.
The Health Ministry has also warned of the danger of crowding at the border if drivers have to queue up for tests, as this might be a breeding ground for the virus.
However, the Kenyan drivers suggested that “Covid-19 tests at the boarders should be hastened and congestion be avoided by drivers being allocated numbers for testing and avoid the queues.”