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East Africa council pushes for seamless trade

BUSINESS
By Benard Lusigi | Jan 25th 2022 | 2 min read
By Benard Lusigi | January 25th 2022
BUSINESS

Trade CS Betty Maina when she presented a token of appreciation to Dr Bernard Otim, the former chairman Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC). [File, Standard]

The East African Business Council is pushing for the revival of business committees to facilitate the seamless flow of goods and services at border points.

The regional apex body of the Private Sector Association and Corporate has embarked on an ambitious plan to revamp joint border committees in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi under the East Africa trade protocol.

"We are focused on revamping the joint border committees and work in collaboration with Kenya and Uganda revenue authorities and all other relevant agencies," said John Kalisa, the council chief executive officer.

Speaking during a multi-agency forum that brought together different actors from both Kenya and Uganda at Malaba border yesterday, Kasila said they are focused on formulating robust systems that will guarantee fast clearance of trucks along the border towns of Kenya and Uganda.

"We would like to create a strong team and functional systems which will make the perennial trucks traffic snarl-up a thing of the past," said the official.

He said women traders from both Uganda and Kenya have been experiencing many forms of harassment at the border points "and we would like to address that challenge and ensure they have a friendly working environment."

Kalisa said they want instruments spelled out the East African Business regulations reviewed for posterity.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Regional Director Pamela Ahango said they have deployed more staff in the customs department to expedite clearance of trucks.

"The deployment has helped fast-track the process and reduce the number of trucks parked along Malaba-Webuye highway from over 80 kilometres to 34 kilometres in less than a week.

She said the issue of the incomplete road towards the border has contributed to the challenges being experienced.

"We have brought this issue to the attention of Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia "who has promised to fix the road. KenHa inspected the stretch and we expect the works to begin anytime."

Ms Ahango also said the newly installed scanner on the Kenyan side has not been functioning but the challenge is being addressed.

"We have acquired a new generator to help run the scanner without power hitches," she said.

She said KRA officials from Isebania and Kisumu have been deployed at Busia and Malaba to help in clearance.

Kalisa said all trucks from Kenya will be cleared on Ugandan side while those from Uganda will be cleared in Kenya along the border.

On the issue of parking space at the busy border points, Kalisa said trucks are supposed to move on after clearance because parking was not envisaged during the designing of the One-Stop-Border post.

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