Truck drivers decry Tanzania border delays over sluggish COVID-19 testing

By Elina Jonas Ruzindaza
On 24 September 2020 at 10:37

Cross-border truck drivers from the port of Dar es Salaam, say they are delayed on the way due to misunderstandings in terms of Coronavirus testing methods on the Rwandan-Tanzanian border.

This was largely due to the Tanzanian authorities’ decision to reject Rwanda’s COVID-19 test certificate, preferring to carry out their tests.

The problem here is that to get the test results it takes between four and seven days, which causes to delay of drivers and their cargo on the road and the amount of money they have to spend on the journey increases exponentially.

Now trucks traveling to or from Rwanda have been on the line for days in Tanzania, while its drivers are waiting for results to show that they Covid-19 negative.

Rwanda, on the other hand, also rejects Coronavirus test results provided by Tanzania, as The East African announced. Instead the drivers from there are required to retake the test, although it does not take long to get the results, instead of taking days, it only takes a few hours.

After noticing that there was a high incidence of Coronavirus infection among truck drivers, Rwanda established the Kiyanzi logistics platform to conduct Covid-19 tests for all truckers coming into the country. This eventually replaced the method of exchanging drivers at the border which Tanzania was not happy about.

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry Michel Sebera, said they are aware of the difficulties Rwandan truck drivers are facing in Tanzania, where the delays to clear Rwandan cargo has attracted high demurrages and other costs.

Sebera added Tanzania are using several delaying techniques, and they are retaliating to the measures Rwanda took including Kiyanzi which were meant to control the spread of Covid-19.

The director of Rwanda Chamber of Commerce at PSF, Akumuntu Joseph, said that being tested in Tanzania for between four and seven days is a bad thing for their business. He emphasizes that the testing is not so much about safety, it is to push the government to remove the Kiyanzi testing site.

Akumuntu further added that the Malaba border between Kenya and Uganda, where normally goods coming to Rwanda pass, there are also some delays and their prices have risen, but at least it is not very difficult because they accept the results provided by Rwanda indicating that a person has been tested for Coronavirus.

Michel Sebera said they are aware of the difficulties Rwandan truck drivers are facing in Tanzania