News & Information



21
August
2020

Weekly online regional platform providing solution to Cross border Challenges


By: TTCA
Summary/Brief
The Northern Corridor Secretariat has put in place a regional platform for online meetings held through “Zoom” every Tuesday. The meeting that connects the Northern Corridor stakeholders mainly focuses on what is happening in real-time in each Member State in general and at each transit or transport node along the corridor (Port, Weighbridges, Border Posts, ICDs, and Container Freight Stations) in particular.


The trade and logistics sectors in the Northern Corridor Member States has much been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Northern Corridor region is bracing for tougher times due to the adverse effects that are expected to reverberate through the various economic sectors as well as the supply chains in the predictable future.

Trucks Traffic at Malaba.jpg
Trucks Traffic jams like the one in the photo above are tremendously reducing.

Directly serving six Member States, namely; Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda, the Northern Corridor is a vast geographical area with a road network covering approximately 12,707km; while the railway line extends to about 8,206km within the region.

The corridor routes transverses major cities and urban areas, some of which have been marked as COVID-19 hotspots; making the logistics sector inevitably vulnerable to the pandemic and possibly a vector for the transmission of Coronavirus in the region. Inevitabily, the most vulnerable groups to the COVID-19 infections include Long Distance Truck Drivers and their assistants due the nature of their work.

In general terms, drivers have been experiencing extended stays at the testing centres and border points as they waited for clearance and making follow ups on the COVID-19 movement requirements. This has resulted into long queues as manifested by those that were reported at some border points.

Given the prevailing situation, staff working at Customs, Immigration, Police, Port Health, Standards Agencies, Clearing and Forwarding Agencies, Weighbridges, designated Rest Stops and the Port also require some special attention; given the extra hours work amid the constraining conditions occasioned by the existing containment measures.

In recognition of the risks posed by the pandemic, Member States of the Northern Corridor implemented measures to contain the spread of the virus as guided by the World Health Organisation. Some of the measures include:

  • Limiting or banning non-essential travel by imposing curfews, lockdowns and cessation of movement into and out of selected areas;
  • Reducing non-essential work and promoting teleworking;
  • Cancelling mass gatherings and promoting social distancing, sanitisation, washing hands, wearing of face masks and other protective clothings.

Apart from the high-level advocacy in the Member States for keeping cross-border trade open, the Northern Corridor Secretariat is involved in regular monitoring of the impact of COVID-19 on Trade and Transport Logistics along the corridor.

The Northern Corridor Secretariat has also put in place a regional platform for online meetings held through “Zoom” every Tuesday. The meeting that connects the Northern Corridor stakeholders mainly focuses on what is happening in real-time in each Member State in general and at each transit or transport node along the corridor (Port, Weighbridges, Border Posts, ICDs, and Container Freight Stations) in particular.

On a daily basis, the Northern Corridor stakeholders and representatives of Regional Economic Communities such as EAC share, follow up and intervene on the challenges happening at the cross-border points through WhatsApp Group dubbed “Northern Corridor Stakeholders Forum”  which has been dedicated to rapid information sharing and collaboration aimed at mitigating the challenges and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

To support the cross-border truck drivers, the Northern Corridor Secretariat donated 10, 000 reusable face masks to protect themselves and protect others. The Secretariat also pledged to support truck drivers in solving the challenges they encounter during their journey, at cross-border points and mandatory stops in the Northern Corridor Member States.

All the above initiatives and interventions undertaken by the Northern Corridor Secretariat are bearing results. The results included the regular exchange of information and updates on measures to mitigate COVID-19 pandemic; timely solving of operational challenges at the transit nodes; removal of unnecessary roadblocks, and addressing issues such as bribery, stigmatisation of truck drivers and the long queues at the border points. Tracking the corridor performance; increased stakeholders engagement and collaboration; as well as the promotion of regional roadmap to make the corridor more resilient to future disruptive hazards is also part of the efforts.

The online platform initiated by the Northern Corridor Secretariat also enabled stakeholders to identify new Cross-border transit routes that needed upgrading such as Bungoma-Lwakhakha border station-Tororo/Mbale road; alternative transit route between Kenya and Uganda, and Nadapal-Juba between Kenya and South Sudan.

The alternative transit route between Kenya and Uganda will provide an opportunity to truckers to South Sudan, Northern part of Eastern DRC and Northern Uganda to avoid the heavy traffic at Malaba and shorten the distance as well.





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