New plan to mitigate Covid impact on East Africa logistics

Shippers and freight forwarders have agreed to develop a regional stimulus-response plan in efforts to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on business and spur regional trade.

This is among a raft of policy proposals arrived at following an industry study at the Nairobi and Naivasha inland container depots, the border towns of Namanga and Malaba as well as Rusumu in Rwanda.

The study conducted between March 2020 and March this year established that over 75 percent of transport and logistics businesses in the East African community were negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We identified the gaps and also gave proposals that would help mitigate the spread of Covid-19 and at the same time facilitate trade,” said William Ojonyo, leader of the Transport Technical Working Group on the study.

The Federation of East Africa Freight Forwarders Associations Shippers Council of East Africa and Africa Economic Consortium partnered to conduct a study.

Among the gaps identified is the lack of harmonised testing and Covid-19 certificate among EAC partner states as well as risk management planning and implementation strategies.

At the peak of the pandemic in June last year, truck drivers were stuck on the road for up to three weeks in a trip that takes four days due to a lack of coordination between authorities in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.

According to the findings of the study, in the central corridor, there was a notable decrease in the road transport rate from Dar es Salaam Port to Rwanda (Kigali) from $3000 in January to $2,700 in September.

The Dar es Salaam port to (DRC) Goma route, however, experienced an increase, from $4,150 in May to $4,400 in September 2020.

Other policy proposals include enhancing IT infrastructure and automation as well as prioritising vaccination in the transport and logistics sector.

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