East African Countries have rolled out a system to simplify the inspection of Covid-19 test results for drivers electronically.
The system will ease the movement of goods at the borders which have been riddled with controversy since the outbreak of Covid-19.
Drivers have experienced costly delays, sometimes lasting for weeks, as authorities seek to determine their Covid-19 status at the entry points.
The EAC Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System is designed to enable authorities share test results of drivers and crew facilitating easy communication along the transport routes and highways.
The EAC issued a notice to relevant ministers and member countries directing all drivers and crew to upload their Covid-19 certificates to the new system before their cargo is fitted with tracking gadgets. The move has already attracted opposition from the transporters citing short notice of implementation.
“Following a joint ministerial meeting responsible for Health, Trade and EAC held by video Conference on March 25 and in line with the directive of the Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment held on June 3, the EAC Secretariat with support from trademark East Africa had finalised the development of EAC Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System,” read a section of the circular by Deputy Secretary-General EAC Christophe Bazivamo.
Mr Bazivamo said that the new system will help share the Covid-19 test results electronically, therefore, easing the snarl-up experienced along the transport corridors.
“It is important to know that from July 24, all Covid-19 certificates for cross border trucks drivers shall be issued from the Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking system (RECDTS) platform,” said Bazivamo.
He added: “EAC wishes to request all partner states to officially inform all transporters/truck owners about this regional initiative and sensitize them to have drivers registered in the mentioned system.”
The system has already attracted opposition from Member countries.
Kenya Transporters Association executive officer Dennis Ombok said the concerned parties have not been trained on the usage of the system. He also said that he only learnt of the implementation recently during a stakeholder virtual meeting.
“The launch of the system this week is premature and we need some time for training on how to use it. It involved downloading an app in a smartphone and the one-week piloting is a short time considering most drivers are not conversant with the system while some cannot use smartphone effectively,” said Mr Ombok.
“If they do so, it will be a trade barrier they have introduced since it will take time to align cargo, driver and truck to the system as it is required before the cargo is taken from any port facility.”
The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and Trade Mark East Africa has meanwhile deployed healthcare personnel (nurses and doctors) to collect the samples for mandatory Covid-19 testing. They have also deployed data staff who include a statistician to capture and manage information.
“We have also seconded medical staff including doctors, nurses, lab technicians to support Ministry of Health and the Nairobi Metropolitan Services with surveillance at more than ten quarantine serving over 300 hundred clients.
“Data specialist, finance and administrative officers and communication specialists have been deployed to assist the Ministry of Health with the Covid-19 response,” IOM Kenya Chief of Mission, Sharon Demanche said.