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EAC traders want new protocol explained

BUSIA
By | January 8th 2010

By Nick Oluoch

Lack of information on the new East Africa Community (EAC) protocol on trade is slowing down regional trade.

The protocol came into effect just recently, but trade on the Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania borders has not picked up momentum.

A survey by The Standard along the Kenya-Tanzania border at the Isebania cross-border point revealed both Kenyans and Tanzanians did not know how the protocol, which came into effect on January 1, this year, would impact on their businesses.

The protocol seeks to make trade easy among the East African countries by doing away with several cross-border requirements.

"We are yet to be informed of the changes and how they will affect us," Mr David Kimani, a Kenyan businessman in Mwanza, Tanzania said.

He also appealed to the Government through the Immigration and the Trade ministries to carry out a campaign along all the borders to ensure citizens know how they stood to benefit with the opening of the borders.

Same charges

He said so far, Kenyan traders still paid the same fee to bring goods from Tanzania, apart from food, which was zero-rated early last year due to drought.

His Tanzania colleague, Mr Robi Kerata, concurred with him, and appealed to the two governments to educate residents on the new rules.

Kerata who deals in soaps, toothpaste and other household goods manufactured in Tanzania, said it was important for everybody to know what was expected of them not only to obey the new regulations, but also avoid exploitation by Immigration officials on either sides.

"We have to know which documents and payments have been shelved," he said.

In Migingo Island, whose ownership is still being disputed by Kenyan and Ugandan authorities, occupants were still unaware of how the new regulations work. Kenyan fishermen said they are still being harassed.

At Muhuru Bay in Nyatike District, the site of the proposed crossing point between Kenya and Tanzania, the situation is the same.

Most residents admit they are not sure how the protocol will affect the cross-border trade.

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