PSCU – President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart John Pombe Magufuli on Saturday officially launched the Namanga One Stop Border Post.
The leaders said it should mark a new dawn of cooperation that will ensure trade blossoms and small traders benefit to the maximum.
Uhuru cautioned customs and immigration officials from both countries to desist from engaging in corruption. He said it undermines the spirit of the East African Community that focuses on the free movement of goods and people.
“Trade between the two countries is curtailed by people employed to man our border posts. Instead of these people assisting citizens to trade freely, they engage in corruption. This must stop,” Uhuru said.
He said the small-scale traders who drive the economy of Kenya and should be supported to do business across the border unhindered.
“That is why I agree with President Magufuli that as leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure that we protect our small traders,” Uhuru said.
He, however, said traders should not abuse the opportunities offered by the One Stop Border Post to engage in illegal and unlawful business.
Uhuru welcomed the announcement by the African Development Bank to fund the construction of a highway from Malindi through Lunga Lunga in Kenya to Bagamoyo in Tanzania. He said this will boost regional integration.
Uhuru reiterated his call for the people of East Africa not to allow the imaginary boundaries created by colonialists to divide them.
“These boundaries created by colonialists should not separate communities that have lived together and cooperated for many years,” he said.
He said the region should focus on bringing together the six countries of the East African region to consolidate the common market with a population of more than 200 million people.
Uhuru said this will make East Africa compete favourably with other regional economic blocs on the continent.
“Our integration and the common market will attract more investors and create jobs for our people,” President Uhuru said.
The Namanga One Stop Border Post is one of the 15 such facilities in the region, with the first one to be opened being the Taveta-Holili that was commissioned in February 2016.
President Magufuli said the Namanga post will facilitate the ease of doing business and improve trade between Kenya and Tanzania.
He said such border posts have brought a lot of benefits to the East African region. Magufuli cited the reduction of transport costs, reduction in the time of travel, increased trade and tourism.
“It is expected that the One Stop Border Post will facilitate trade and boost trade. Traders will be able to transport their goods 10 times per month while in the past it was hard to do so even four times a month,” Magufuli said.
He said there is an increased collection of revenue from Tshs 3 billion to Tshs 4.5 billion per month for the Tanzanian government since the facility started its operations in October last year.
Magufuli said one of the things that hinder economic cooperation between countries in Africa is the challenge of trade facilitation which is exhibited through unnecessary delays on the road, at ports and border posts, contributing to an increase in the cost of doing business.
“According to research done by the World Bank, such challenges account for 65 per cent increase in the cost of doing business in Africa,” he said.
He said the high cost of doing business also leads to a reduction of intra-Africa trade compared to other continents.
Cabinet secretaries Peter Munya, James Macharia, Keriako Tobiko and Adan Mohamed attended the event.
Kajiado governor Joseph ole Lenku, EAC Secretary General Liberat Mufumukeko and Japan’s Ambassador to Tanzania Shinichi Goto were also present.