9 May 2018

Kenyan Traders Accuse Tanzanian Border Officials of Harassment

Kenyan traders have protested alleged harassment by Tanzania government officials, adding to increasing complaints against the country's customs and security officials.

The traders, led by Samuel Rumo, decry frequent harassment and arrests at the Isibania/Sirare border post.

"We are calling on the government to liaise with Tanzanian government to expeditiously address our plight. Traders from Kenya are being frustrated by Tanzanian security officials yet their people are doing business in our country without any problem," said Mr Rumo.

"We are planning to hold a big demonstration at the border if the Government will not handle this problem amicably," he added.

Cross-Border Traders (CBT) chairman at Isebania border Peter Highway said they had complained to Kenyan customs officials but no action had been taken.

The business groups raised their concerns with Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice-chairman James Mureu during a business forum.

Bribes

The traders said they are often frustrated by Tanzanian officials when they are clearing their goods at the customs office and that police demand bribes to allow them to freely carry out their businesses.

"The Tanzanian customs officials continue to harass and intimidate Kenyan traders. We wonder why this is happening yet the two governments keep talking of East African co-operation," said John Chacha Marwa, who has been doing business at the border for the past eight years.

"Clearance of goods on the Tanzanian side still takes hours because of formalities and bureaucracies. The custom officials always take their time so that they can be bribed to expedite the process," he added.

The traders, said most of them are arbitrarily arrested and detained on tramped-up charges in a bid to curtail their business in the country.

"Most of the Kenyan traders have been arrested in Tanzania without legitimate reasons. Some have been labelled criminals and deported to Kenya but all this is done in a bid to curtail businesses for the Kenyans and give Tanzanians an upper hand," said a trader, Chacha Kehaga.

They said long queues of trucks carrying goods are still a common sight at the Tanzanian side, with drivers complaining of long hours at the border.

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