, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – Kenya has formally written to and demanded answers from Tanzania for its confiscation of Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter’s passport and those of his Principal Secretaries at the Tanga port on Wednesday.
Kenya has demanded to know why the Kenyan delegation was denied entry into the Tanga port while their Ugandan counterparts were given a tour.
According to a source in the Presidency, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has tasked Kenya’s envoy to Tanzania Ali Chirau Mwakwere with getting to the bottom of the matter. “We want them to tell us what wrong they did as per the East African Protocol.”
There are those of the opinion that the action was taken in retaliation for Tanzania’s exclusion during talks held at State House Nairobi on an oil-pipeline that would move crude oil from the oil-fields of Hoima to the Port of Lamu.
But the Kenyan government has defended the decision to exclude Tanzania saying they were “bi-lateral” talks.
It was however Kenya which ended up blindsided after it emerged that Uganda and Tanzania had already signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the Uganda to commercialise its crude oil through the Port of Tanga.
But government sources insist that the MOU is not binding and that, “the best thing for everyone,” is for Kenyan and Ugandan experts to further research the route options on the table.
“The two leaders agreed to meet after two weeks in Kampala to allow their technical officials to harmonise their presentations, focusing on: ensuring a least-cost option for a regional integrated pipeline, address constructability issues along all routes – existing and planned infrastructure, terrain and elevations. Assessing and confirming the current proven reserves which will have an impact on the size of the pipeline,” Keter and his Ugandan counterpart Irene Muloni jointly stated on March 21 following the State House meeting.
It is in the process of assessing the, “viability of the Lamu, Mombasa and Tanga ports,” that Keter and the rest of his delegation encountered hostility.
Kenya has described the pipeline as a, “key plank,” of the Northern Corridor Infrastructure Projects. “In construction of the pipeline, Kenya favours the “northern route” through Lokichar, because as part of the Lamu Port, South Sudan, Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project, it would transform infrastructure and the way of life of the people in the towns and counties across its path,” President Uhuru Kenyatta’s spokesman explained on the eve of the State House bi-lateral talks.
Kenya is therefore not ready to admit defeat to Tanzania.
The last time Kenya and Tanzania were engaged in a diplomatic row it was over the latter’s failure to admit Kenyan tour vans into their parks. Kenya retaliated by locking Tanzanian tour vans out of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport but later retreated.