Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade)
The three-day visit was aimed at basically assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the border and trade Facilitation measures put in place.
Over the past few months, since the global pandemic sunk its teeth into the East African Community economy, there has been a series of disruptions to trade. This has been specifically been caused by the delayed being experienced at the border points due to the requirement that truck drivers undertake a COVID-19 test before being allowed into a member state.
KenTrade Board of Directors met with representatives of the Busia border trade community and also the Busia Border Management Committee during this visit. They also visited both the One-Stop Border Post Kenyan side and Ugandan side to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the border and trade Facilitation measures put in place.
This tour has provided an opportunity to directly engage with our stakeholders including representatives of Partner Government Agencies and the Malaba Trade Community on the services offered at the border.
This comes as traders decry of the inefficiency currently being experienced at the border points causing delays and subsequent loss of revenues. The amount of revenue lost during this has not yet been identified.
Just recently, the East African Business Council (EABC) called upon the East African Community Partner States to put an end to testing of COVID-19 at border points, in order to decongest them and increase intra-EAC trade.
This follows yet another intensive EABC’s 3-day visits at the Busia One-Stop Border Post (OSBP), Malaba OSBP and Isebania border, aimed at seeking sustainable solutions to reduce recurring trucks snarl-ups which have in the last one month disrupted cross border trade and led to loss/damage of million goods.
According to the EABC CEO, Dr Peter Mutuku Mathuki, various border points are facing a constant shortage of COVID-19 reagents and testing kits. In addition, distressed truck drivers awaiting and collecting their COVID-19 results are neither observing social distancing nor putting on protective masks.
The snarl-ups are also disrupting the flow of goods thus increasing operational costs for traders, causing wastage of volumes of perishable goods and fueling corruption cases.
“Testing Covid-19 at border points should come to a stop to ease congestion of trucks which is hindering cross-border trade and reducing trade volumes, just when the region is struggling to recover from the pandemic,” said Dr Mathuki.
Dr Mathuki also added that the move will strengthen cross-border trade making it resilient in the face of future shocks and boost the competitiveness of East African goods in the continental and global markets.
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According to a report released by EABC in September 2020, titled, ‘Impact Of Covid-19 on Business and Investments in the EAC and Proposed Recovery Measures for the EAC Economies,’ 56 per cent of businesses have been affected by cross border restrictions since the pandemic hit the EAC bloc. 44 per cent of businesses are still struggling to source raw materials to keep their businesses afloat.
EABC is also calling for small-scale cross-border traders especially women, to be allowed to trade with adherence to Standard Operating Procedures put in place by the Ministries of Health.
The East African Business Council accompanied the Ministry of EAC Affairs and Regional Development of Kenya and various private sector stakeholders during the border visits and calls for mutual recognition of COVID-19 certificates among the EAC Partner States and deployment of more personnel from the government agencies to facilitate trade.