In a significant step towards enhancing regional trade within the East African Community (EAC), Kenya’s President HE. William Ruto has issued a compelling directive for the immediate dismantling of roadblocks on all transit routes.
The roadblocks, according to his directive will be replaced by Mobile Police Security. The move is set to facilitate seamless movement of goods and promote economic integration among EAC member states, by curbing non-tariff barriers to trade.
Additionally, Ruto instructed the immediate closure of all weighing points, except for Merikhani and the border checkpoints, for all transit cargo.
These directives followed a meeting in the port city of Mombasa held on July 29th, 2023, which wss attended by Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, Uganda’s Minister for Works and Transport, and HE. Ruto.
In the meeting, it was decided that these directives would be implemented with immediate effect. President Ruto stated that they will reconvene in 90 days to assess the progress made.
As per the Kenya Ports Authority, Uganda ranks second after Kenya as the biggest user of Mombasa Port, with a 24 percent market share.
Annually, 6 million tonnes of cargo destined for Uganda pass through Mombasa, handling around 80 percent of Uganda’s imports and exports.
Tanzania’s Dar-es-Salaam handles 10 percent of the cargo, while the remaining goes through other ports and Entebbe Airport. Other destinations include South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania.
The regional integration journey has seen a significant step forward with the waiver of visa requirements for all East African travelers, including DRC personnel.
This move will facilitate free movement of people and labor within the East African Community. Additionally, the government of Kenya will no longer be responsible for providing scanners at the port; instead, this responsibility will be taken up by private players.
Furthermore, to enhance efficiency, the port will operate 24 hours a day, and efforts will be made to harmonize and automate the systems for clearing goods, as per the directive.
The Kenya Ports Authority will also establish Fresh Product Efficient Export Mechanisms to support the export of fresh food.
Gen Wamala mentioned that other issues are being tackled by the concerned stakeholders, and the leaders will reconvene in 90 days to assess the resolutions made.
It should be noted that the imposition of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) on trade and frequent requests for preferential tax treatment and exemptions have undermined intra-EAC trade.
According to the Intra-EAC Trade Brief Analysis report conducted by the East African Business Council (EABC), the regional trade plummeted by a distressing $1.billion in 2023, due to non-tarrif barriers and taxes.
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