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Drivers at the border pay to get negative COVID-19 certificate

Oct 14, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — Long distance drivers at Malaba and Busia borders have said that they been paying health workers at the border to get negative COVID-19 results in order to gain passage.

Heavy-goods vehicles queue in Busia as far as the eye can see on Sunday(Photo credit: courtesy image/Nyamilepedia)
Heavy-goods vehicles queue in Busia as far as the eye can see on Sunday(Photo credit: courtesy image/Nyamilepedia)

The drives association leaders have confirmed the issue saying that since they are required to enter into some East African countries with a Covid-19 negative certificate, the easiest way to acquire it is to pay between Shs50,000 and Shs150,000. 

“Truck drivers are paying the people testing to get Covid-19 negative results. This compromises the efforts we put in containing the pandemic,” Mr Omongo Ndugu, the executive director of Uganda Professional Drivers’ Network and the vice chairperson of Uganda Long Distance and Heavy Truck Drivers’ Association, told Daily Monitor on Tuesday.

“Bribery is a big issue at both entry points, drivers are being forced to pay for things that are not paid for. I don’t know who told these people (officials) that drivers have a lot of money and therefore must pay for all this,” Mr Ndugu said. 

Sources say both health workers and security forces have taken advantage of the long queues on both sides of the border to extort money from the truck drivers.

Sources say while Kenya tests the drivers freely, Uganda charges about Shs240,000 for a single Covid-19 test.

As a result, Kenya run out of testing kits, and now all drivers are being directed to test from Uganda. 

According to drivers, last week, the queues were unbearable so one had to part with between Shs50,000 and Shs120,000 to cross the borders adding that brokers approach them at strategic points.

“Last week, we paid between Shs50,000 and Shs150,000 for Covid-19 negative results and after about an hour, we were cleared to proceed. Why should I spend many days at the border if I can get the money and pay them to cross the border easily?” Mr Kairuki, a kenyan driver asked.

The authorities from both Kenya and Uganda have refuted the allegations.

 “These are allegations. What we deal with is anything that has evidence of any one taking bribes. They (drivers) should report to the police or my office,” Mr Joseph Kanyiri Murithi, the county commissioner of Busia County Kenya. 

Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the Ugandan State Minister for Primary Healthcare, said the long queues and bribery allegations were denting the country’s effort to combat the pandemic. 

“We have been meeting to see how to identify authentic results from the ministry. That is the only option and secure way,” she said.

Dr Peter Mathuki, the chief executive officer of East African Business Council, said they were looking into how Kenya and Uganda can work together to have a permanent solution to shortages of testing kits and reagents.

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