Kenyan tourist vans to wait longer to access Dar market

Kenyan tour vans will have to wait longer before being allowed to access Tanzanian game parks and international airports.

This follows delays by Dar to agree to a meeting with Kenya to resolve the issue.

Tanzanian ministers are said to be in heated political campaigns, awaiting elections slated for October this year. East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie told Weekend Business that Tanzania has been dragging its feet, even after Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Jakaya Kikwete agreed to have the matter resolved by March this year.

This was to allow smooth business operations in the region. The Government complains that there has been suspicion and lack of interest on the Tanzanian side, to review the 1985 bilateral agreement that specifies how tourism vans access each others' market.

“Tanzania officials have been elusive despite Kenya’s efforts to meet them and address outstanding tourism industry differences.w friendly way of how bilateral trade should be designed, we haven’t done anything,” said Kandie.

Industry players say the delay in resolving the issue is deepening suspicion between the two countries, and frustrating the implementation of the 2010 East African Common Market Protocol that provides free movement of goods, labour, services, and capital.

“Our counterparts in Tanzania have not been available to enable us meet to resolve the matter,” said Ms Kandie during the inauguration of the board of the Kenya Investment Authority mid this week.

She said efforts to reach out to the Dar government ministers have not yielded results as the country continues with the electioneering. “This means that the status quo as per the March 2015 agreement by the two presidents remains. Our tourist vans will continue to drop passengers at the designated border points and Tanzania vans will continue to do so though they access our airports,” she explained. Kenya Association of Tour Operators Chief Executive Fred Kaigua complained that local industry players have been pushing to have the 1985 bilateral agreement reviewed, but the Dar government has been reluctant. “We don’t benefit a lot from the Tanzania tourism market but the tourism players from Tanzania draw over 40 per cent from the Kenya market,” said Kaigua on phone yesterday.

Kenya and Tanzania signed an agreement that specifies how tourism vans access each others market in 1985.

The agreement barred tourist vans from accessing each others airports and game parks. While Tanzania implemented fully, Kenya partially relaxed the rules to allow Tanzanian vans to access her international airports.

Game parks

The agreement provides that tourist vans from Kenya drop passengers at the border posts at Lunga Lunga, Taveta, Namanga and Nyakiyakaye on the Kenyan side and Tanzanian vans drop at Horohoro, Himo, Namanga, and Sirare. “We do even go past the border, let alone game parks but our counterparts from Tanzania are allowed to access the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport,” he said.

“The Government is according foreign traders more benefits over locals. Tanzanian authorities started locking us out of their market in 2009 but Kenya has allowed them to continue to access our international airports. This has frustrated the spirit of the common market approach,” Kaigua said.

Twiga Tours Chief Executive Minaz Manji said the standoff is hurting business relations between the two countries.

“Kenya ought to stop being soft to the Tanzania government and ensure that all the principles of fair business competition are adhered to,” Manji said.

“The situation is only benefiting Tanzanian tourist vans. President Kenyatta needs to take a strong stand and ensure the local businesses are protected.”

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