DAR ES SALAAM, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- A senior official on Friday urged member states of the East African Community (EAC) to fast-track the adoption of EACPass, a harmonized system to facilitate cross-border movement aimed at ending persistent border traffic snarl-ups that disrupt intra-EAC trade.
Peter Mathuki, the EAC secretary general, said in a statement that there is need for EAC member states to adopt the EACPass, a system that integrates all EAC member states negative test results for COVID-19 and those vaccinated, easing turnaround time at border points.
"The EACPass is directly integrated to all the six EAC member states national laboratories and only national accredited laboratories are approved to carry out PCR COVID-19 tests for travelers," he said.
"This is set to build confidence in all member states since certificates are digitally authenticated from all accredited laboratories in region," Mathuki added.
He said as the region strives to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, constant trade impasses at the EAC border points were reducing the gains made in integrating the region.
Mathuki added that the EAC members need to prioritize the adoption of a regional coordinated approach in handling the pandemic.
"Harmonization of COVID-19 charges and coordinated waiting time for COVID-19 results is critical to facilitate business continuity and ease the cost of doing business," said Mathuki.
He made the statement in the background of an ongoing trade impasse at the Kenya-Uganda border points of Busia and Malaba that has disrupted cross-border trade.
Currently, the EAC members have finalized the technical integration of accredited laboratories within the community to EACPass and digital certificates can be shared across the region to facilitate easy movement of EAC citizens within the region.
The piloting of EACPass has started in Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi while the other EAC member states of Tanzania, Kenya and South Sudan are finalizing the internal processes to start the piloting of the same, said Mathuki.
The 21st Meeting of the Sectoral Council of Ministers responsible for Health held on Dec. 10, 2021, approved the EACPass as a regional platform to facilitate movement of all travelers in the region and beyond.
The Council also directed EAC member states to facilitate the implementation and use of EACPass as a platform for quick verification of COVID-19 test certificates and vaccination status for travelers. ■