State to begin truck drivers’ assessment to curb coronavirus

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta in a foot-shake with journalist Chris Wambuno of Milele FM after an interview with some Swahili radio stations at State House, Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PSCU

Henry Andanje

Chief Administrative Secretary for Health Dr Rashid Aman has said Kenya will start mass testing of long distance truck drivers, who are among high risk groups in the fight against coronavirus.

Aman said the exercise is crucial in combating the spread of the virus in high-risk border counties where truck drivers mingle with residents easily before proceeding with their journeys.

He made the remarks yesterday while addressing the Malaba One Stop Border Post Border committee, county and National government officials in Malaba town.

“Uganda is already undertaking mass testing of truck drivers which is appropriate, there is need for Kenya to expand its testing to include truck drivers,” he said.

Take samples

The CAS said they are also planning to start  testing high risk groups including frontline workers and all health workers.

 He added that Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and Kemri Alupe and Kisumu facilities will be used as testing centres in the region to avoid traffic pile ups in Malaba which is currently experiencing a 30-km snarl up while Busia is experiencing a 5km one.

Dr Aman said the government will negotiate with Uganda to have Kenya take samples of truck drivers 30km inside Uganda while Uganda should do likewise inside Kenya, to boost the testing efforts.

 Transport and Infrastructure CAS Chris Obure said the 30km traffic pile-up in Malaba is unacceptable, adding  that the congestion has serious implications on truck owners in terms of lost revenue and dangers posed to communities living along the Bungoma-Malaba Highway.

“Covid-19 should not be a reason to defeat the objective of  the East African Community, thus the need to find an urgent  solution to the pandemic,” said Obure.

Busia Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi urged the National government to intervene in implementation of infrastructure development in Busia and Malaba borders which has taken too long.

Mulomi also said there is need for the government to speed up expansion of the Busia-Korinda highway and construction of trailer parks in Busia and Malaba to reduce congestion of trucks at the border town.

Interior CAS Hussein Dhado said plans are in the offing to install non-intrusive cargo scanners in Busia and Malaba aimed at enhancing trade and security.

Chief of Staff Sebastian Okiring and Malaba Central MCA Bernard Papa appealed to the Transport CAS to consider construction of dykes along rivers Malaba and Malakisi, failure of which water borne diseases will be inevitable once the Malaba sewerage project is complete.

Planned testing of the drivers comes even as experts have warned that only mass testing can help the State tell the true extent of infections and which measures to take to stop the spread.

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