EU, TradeMark to track drivers online for Covid-19

Mr Frank Matsaert (R), the TradeMark East Africa chief executive officer, hands over personal protective equipment to Ms Mariam Babu (L), the Busia Uganda Women Cross Border Traders Cooperation chairperson in Busia last week. PHOTO | COURTESY

KAMPALA- A mobile application (app) for managing truck drivers’ Covid-19 test information is set to be rolled out next month, the European Union and Trademark East Africa, have said.

The development comes at the back of surging Covid-19 cases at East African borders.
Mr Frank Matsaert, the TradeMark East Africa chief executive officer, said this will be done through TradeMark’s Safe Trade Initiative with support from the EU, which is seeking to use technology to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“It is much better that people are pre-screened and tested before they reach the border. There is no point for people to arrive without their verified Covid-19 results,” he said during the handover of Personal Protective Equipment to front line staff at the Busia One Stop Border Post.

We are working with the ministries of health in the wider East African Community, he said, to develop a truck drivers’ tracking app that will have automatic certificates of the tested drivers and their crew.

In May, the union representing Kenyan long-distance truck drivers suspended movement of trucks to Uganda seeking assurance of their safety resulting from Covid-19-related stigma and harassment.

Tensions were already high along the border after the Ugandan government imposed compulsory Covid-19 tests prior to entry, causing congestion, with queues stretching up to 30 kilometres.

EU Ambassador to Kenya Simon Mordue, said the tracking app will allow customs officials to automatically receive and verify Covid-19 test certificates for truckers.

“I can commit that within two weeks, we are going to have the Covid-19 tracking app up and running. This, we believe, will make a difference to the truck drivers, local communities and will also make the work of customs authorities plus other government bodies on the border easier,” he said.

The development is timely as most of the Covid-19 cases in the region have been traced to truck drivers. For example, at-least 60 per cent of Uganda’s 1,056 cumulative Covid-19 cases as of July 17, were from cross border traders.
On July 17 alone, Ministry of Health data showed that at least 26 foreign truck drivers had tested positive for Covid-19 at border points and they had been denied entry into the country.