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Tanzania police still harassing us, say Taita Taveta traders

By Renson Mnyamwezi | July 21st 2015

Traders at Taita Taveta Ccounty’s border point Monday complained over alleged harassment by Tanzanian authorities.

They said despite existence of a joint pact signed between the two Governments allowing free trade, Tanzanian police arrest them arbitrarily.

In 2012, the then East African Community (EAC) minister Musa Sirma and his Tanzanian counterpart Samuel Sitta signed a joint communiqué to facilitate cross-border and intra-regional trade between citizens of the two countries.

Speaking when they presented their memorandum to Governor John Mruttu, the traders said they are intimidated and harassed by Tanzanian police whenever they go to report loss of goods.

“We thought signing of this agreement would bring a sigh of relief to Kenyan traders but it has become a nightmare.

"Tanzanian authorities have ignored the agreement and the EAC Treaty signed by the five member states,” Zipporah Mwang’ombe, a trader in the region, said.

She said anyone driving a car with Kenyan number plates is arrested and forced to use trucks with Tanzanian plates to transport their goods.

“I recently lost several bags of maize worth over Sh600,000. I had to use a Tanzania-registered vehicle to transport maize from the farm to the border point only for the driver to disappear with the maize,” she said.

Other traders called for standard policies to be put in place so that businessmen from both East Africa states can enjoy the benefits of the EAC integration.

Kenya Chamber of Mines Chairman Bakari Kalema also complained that they are not being allowed to buy gemstones from Tanzanian mines.

“Their gemstone dealers get to freely conduct their mining business in our local mining fields whereas we are locked out in their country.

“This must be rectified for the benefit of all EAC citizens,” he said.

Hefty bribes

The stakeholders got to present their views not only to Mr Mruttu but also to senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade during an outreach programme for the business community in Wundanyi town Monday.

On their part, Tanzanian traders have complained that police in Kenya are demanding hefty bribes to allow them conduct business in the country.

Mruttu asked the Government to come up with policy guidelines that should be common and adhered to by all the EAC member states.

Present at the function were two Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials Carolyne Ngige and Jared Mayieka who said they will make a formal report to the East African Community Affairs ministry for action.

These complaints come after the two governments agreed to harmonise border procedures to allow 24-hour reciprocal opening of border posts.

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