Truck drivers at Malaba border post have demanded Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Uhuru Kenyatta to meet them before they resume work.
This followed a long sit-down strike that has dragged on for several days but with limited media coverage and actions from both countries’ authorities.
The resolution by the drivers to invite the two heads of states was reached in a high level meeting between officials from Kenyan and Ugandan High Commissions and Kenya Transport Association (KTA) at the border post.
From the meeting, delegates and drivers released a joint communique in which they aired their grivancies that led them to strike.
Drivers from both countries said they face stigmatization and harassment from the public esspecially in Uganda.
Video: Kenyan truckers demand a meeting with Museveni and Kenyatta before they unblock the border at Malaba
According to them the public has nicknamed them names which they say has traumatised them and their families.
They also said that they are fed up of multiple testing for Covid19 in Uganda and Kenya which has started affecting their health.
Among others grivancies, drivers pointed out that there is insecurity in the long jams along both countries’ highways which expose their safety and cargo as some unsuspecting persons have started attacking them.
In Uganda, drivers also said that seclusion/rest areas are distant and they lack sanitary facilities which pose other health risks.
The delegation from both states agreed to address the drivers demands by accepting certificates from either sides to reduce on multiple testing and in cases of testing, authorities should be able to release results within hours.
On security, the delegation promised to engage both states to provide it and also improve sanitary facilities at resting and testing centers.
Drivers were also promised a joint social media handle (WhatsApp group) with authorities for both countries and drivers. This would help timely reporting as incidents happen.
In order to ease traffic, the team asked the drivers to start moving.
“If any of their demands are not fully met in 7 days, they can close the border,” said Mercy Ireri the chief operations officer of Kenya Transport Association
Officials said the facilities at resting points have been improved and have service providers like for food, bathrooms etc.
They were also advised to first test before travelling. On the irritating nosal swap, it was noted that this is the world’s standard testing method.
However, the efforts by the joint team to convince drivers to resume work did not yield much as they were not honoured.
Drivers refused to leave the border until heads of states and security ministers meet them.
This website established the source of controversy as being lack of harmonisation of testing procedures of Covid19 for both Uganda and Kenya.
Drivers told Chimp Corps that although Kenyan authorities issue certificates to their drivers, they only test body temperatures and ignore sampling of nasal membranes.
This makes Ugandan authorities with strict guidelines to take drivers through a second test and quarantine.