East Africa: EAC to Provide Hotline for Cross-Border Traders to Report Challenges

The East African Community will have a hotline through which traders crossing partner states borders can register their challenges and get prompt feedback, the secretary general has said.

"There is need to resolve persistent Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and reduce time spent in the movement of goods and persons, hence increasing intra EAC trade, which currently stands at 15 percent," said Dr Peter Mathuki on Monday when he visited Kenya-Tanzania border at Namanga.

"This emergency number will be set up for feedback and follow-up on trade issues, and we hope it will provide an avenue for traders to register their challenges."

The EAC secretary general urged government agencies at the Namanga border to hold regular consultative meetings with traders to identify and address factors that affect intra-regional trade.

He affirmed that the movement of goods and persons at the Namanga One Stop Border Post (OSBP) and truck traffic impasse has cleared following the directive given by Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta last week, when his Tanzanian counterpart Samia Suluhu Hasan visited Nairobi.

"This visit (to the Namanga border) is part of our follow-up on our Heads of State's directive to ensure we facilitate trade between Kenya and Tanzania. Your feedback today will enable us to address these challenges," said Amb John Stephen Simbachawene, who accompanied Dr Mathuki at the Namanga post.

Both officials inspected customs offices, the truck yards and warehouses in a move to establish why goods from a section of trucks from Tanzania were delayed for three days.

A delay in releasing truck drivers' Covid-19 results, lack of a synchronised border crossing procedure checks, and different tax regimes levied on goods from Tanzania and weighbridge charges are some of the challenges traders are facing at the Namanga border.

"The truck drivers should be tested for Covid-19 in the shortest time possible if we are to improve the time it takes to clear goods at the border," Dr Mathuki said.

Speaking at the forum, Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) Namanga OSBP Manager, Paul Kamkulu, stated that in 2019/2020, Tanzanian imports from Kenya stood at approximately $138.79 million while exports to Kenya stood at approximately $124.33 Million.

In the year 2020/2021, Tanzania imports from Kenya stood at approximately $131.44 million while exports to Kenya stood at approximately $170.40 million.

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Namanga Station Manager, Joseph Moywaywa, said Kenya's top exports to Tanzania include detergent, tiles, auto-motives and solar panels, whilst Tanzania's top exports to Kenya include fresh vegetables, alcoholic drinks and fertiliser.

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