22 January 2013

East Africa: Regional Body Urged to Form Border Authority

Kampala — Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have recommended that the region should set up a single authority to oversee the management of border posts.

This should be facilitated by the necessary enabling legislations clearly defining scope and giving it the necessary power to execute its mandate, according to the assembly's report released recently in Arusha, Tanzania.

The report sent to East African Business Week was compiled after an on-spot assessment on the challenges of implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol along the northern and central corridors by the assembly's committee on regional affairs and conflict resolution.

"EAC partner states should set up a single authority to oversee the management of border posts with the necessary enabling legislations clearly defining scope and giving it the necessary power to execute its mandate and that such authority must have the support of all regional governments," members of the committee recommended in the report.

EALA members also recommended that EAC should institute load control limits, fast-track the EAC vehicle load control bill that seeks to harmonize load limits and axle load weights across the region.

"This should subsequently be adopted by all the EAC partner states in a move to harmonize respective country laws with the EAC law," said the report released by the committee chairperson Abubakar Zein Abubakar.

He said that the members also recommended that the EAC integration process should be driven by professionals devoid of political interference as both national and regional politics along with the resultant decisions with limited professional inputs are negatively impacting on the implementation of the regional initiatives;

There is also need for the region to promote joint regular border meetings to address issues affecting transboundary communities and that security and local leaders should be involved on border security projects.

"We also recommended that there was need to harmonize travel documents including students' passes to East African partner states on gratis basis," said the chairperson.

The member's also decried the lengthy border documentation procedures exacerbated by uncoordinated border management systems leading to wastage of time.

"It was noted that it takes at least two days to clear a truck across the border between Kenya and the neighboring partner states," said the chairperson adding that this was however disputed by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) citing the EAC /World Customs Union/USAID time release study which reduced the clearing time to hours based on actual data.

It was noted that numerous police checkpoints and weighbridge inspection points inhibit free movement of trucks along corridor.

He added that the Kenya police informed the legislators that there are 15 police checks that are characterized by spikes laid on the road between Mombasa and Malaba and that these are intended to support detection of crimes other than traffic offences.

It was also revealed that there are four static weighbridges between Mombasa and Malaba operated by the Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA) at Mariakani, Athi River (Mlolongo), Gilgil, Webuye and a mobile one operated from Mai Mahiu.

The report said these weighbridges are and target traffic originating from Nairobi and other centres along the corridor.

It was reported that the police at Mariakani provides security to all goods on transit between Mariakani to Nairobi in a convoy since the areas between Mariakani, Athi River and Nairobi were not safe.

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