By LUKE ANAMI
The weighbridges at Athi River (Mlolongo), Gilgil, Webuye and Eldoret are seen as major trade barriers in the region and a reason why the cost of importing cargo through Kenya is expensive for landlocked Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
The number of roadblocks on Kenyan roads will also be reduced to the barest minimum as a way of eliminating Non Tariff Barriers and reducing corruption within the EAC.
In a raft of measures announced Thursday by Kenya’s Finance Minister Kenya’s Finance Minister Robinson Githae, weighbridges will be relocated only to ports of entry by the end of this year.
Only Mariakani and Malaba weighbridges may remain if the plans by the Government are implemented to the full.
“Kenya and the EAC region can ill afford the high costs associated with delays occasioned by weighbridges and road blocks along the northern corridor, which serves our landlocked neighbouring countries of Uganda, Rwanda and DRC,” Githae said.
“Accordingly, and to facilitate trade and position Mombasa as a regional port, the Government will review relevant regulations and guidelines to ensure that by December 2012 all weighbridges are relocated to ports of entry and all road blocks are either removed or reduced to a bare minimum.”
Kenya has the highest number of weighbridges (7) and roadblocks on the Northern corridor compared to four other EAC states. Both are conduits for corruption and responsible for slow movement of trucks transiting to Uganda and Rwanda.
Githae also announced Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will establish the Customs Service as an autonomous body in line with the requirements of both EAC Customs Union and Common market requirements. The move is expected to free movement of goods, capital, services and people across the border.
It will also enhance revenue collection for the five EAC states of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
“EAC Common Market Protocol establishes a single customs territory to facilitate free movement of goods in the region. Therefore, to realign the operations of our Customs with this Protocol and to mainstream its critical role of trade facilitation and border controls, the Kenya Revenue Authority will be rationalized with a view to establishing the Customs Services as an autonomous entity on its own,” Githae said.