Resolution of existing trade barriers between Kenya and Tanzania may take longer than expected due to bureaucracy.
The directive by presidents Samia Hassan and Uhuru Kenyatta that government officials waive work permit fees and clear maize imports from Tanzania took effect almost immediately, but Kenyan small-scale traders say they waiting for a similar gesture from Tanzania.
Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya toured Namanga border post on May 7 and oversaw the release of trucks transporting maize.
Kenya had in March banned the importation of maize from Uganda and Tanzania over rising concerns about aflatoxin levels in the grains and imposed stringent measures to ensure compliance.
Mr Munya went to Namanga to effect the presidential orders as a sign of the warming relations between the two largest EAC economies.
“This is just one of the issues that we are dealing with very quickly,” said Mr Munya. “But all the other issues that are making it difficult to trade with one another are going to be discussed in a bilateral meeting planned before the end of May.”
One Stop Border Post
Mr Munya also ordered that Covid-19 test results be released within 12 hours to enable fast movement of trucks across the border. This was in response to President Samia, who during her state visit to Nairobi requested that Covid-19 testing be harmonised to facilitate faster movement of goods.
And last Monday, EAC Secretary General Dr Peter Mathuki toured the Namanga One Stop Border Post, accompanied by the High Commissioner of Tanzania Kenya, Dr John Simbachawene, to assess the flow of goods and services at the border.
“We want the trucks ferrying goods across the border to move with speed, as this will assist increase the EAC Intra-trade,” said Dr Mathuki.
But John Keriah ole Mankina, an official of an association of small cross-border traders, raised concerns that Tanzania was still levying fees on Kenyan goods.
“If you cross over to Tanzania to buy goods, you are required to pay for a work permit at $200. Yet doing business does not require a work permit,” Mr ole Mankina said.
He added that Kenyan truckers were being fined for allegedly exceeding axle-load standards in Tanzania. The EAC Vehicle Load Control Bill, 2012 compels truck drivers to observe an axle load limit of 56 tonnes and maximum seven axles for commercial trucks plying the regional road network.
“It costs one Ksh10,000 to test for Covid-19 in Tanzania while it is free on the Kenyan side,” Mr ole Mankina said.
“Road toll costs Ksh2,000 on the Kenyan side while it will cost you Ksh4,000 in Tanzania. We want Tanzania to lower levies imposed on small-scale Kenyan traders, as they are only seeking a livelihood.”
The Customs goods scanning processes are not harmonised at the Namanga border. A spot check by The EastAfrican also revealed that truck drivers from Tanzania take three days waiting to be cleared. Tanzania Revenue Authority Namanga OSBP Manager Paul Kamkulu and his Kenyan counterpart Joseph Moywaywa promised to reduce the time to one day.
“Covid-19 test results will now be released within 12 hours,” said Mr Moywaywa.
Johnson Weru, Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the State Department for Trade and Enterprise Development told The EastAfrican that they had proposed a meeting before end of May, 2021.