President Uhuru Kenyatta, President Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and President Paul Kagame (Rwanda) on Thursday night asked Kenya Revenue Authority boss John Njiraini and his counterparts to rectify a bureaucratic glitch that has seen almost 1,800 clearing and forwarding agents locked out from using systems used by Uganda and Rwanda to clear goods at the port of Mombasa.
The instructions were given after President Kenyatta brought to the attention of the other leaders who were attending the 8th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit at the Safari Park Hotel that many clearing and forwarding agencies have been disadvantaged after Uganda and Rwanda revenue authorities set up shop in Mombasa.
The agents have been temporarily locked out because of delay in training them to use systems used by Uganda and Rwanda.
The revenue authority bosses were summoned to stand in front of the Presidents to explain why such a situation could occur under their watch when the Heads of State themselves were working overtime to integrate the region.
The officers as well as cabinet ministers were taken to task to say when they will resolve the backlog and ensure all agents are cleared to do business using the systems.
The summit directed the revenue authorities to ensure that by the end of January the anomaly is rectified.
“When we meet in two months in Kigali for the next summit we want you to report back and tell us all clearing agents are able to do business using all the systems,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta said the aim of the integration process was to create prosperity and no one should sabotage the efforts that have gone into the progress made so far.
“It is not right for people to lose business because of the integration process when the whole aim is to increase prosperity,” he told the revenue bosses.
President Museveni was categorical when he said, “it is a crime to delay a business even for one day. I will not tolerate anyone who undermines integration.”
President Kagame also spoke strongly against the reported disadvantage of a section of clearing and forwarding agents in Mombasa were facing.
Uganda and Rwanda revenue authorities have, under the integration process, opened stations at the port of Mombasa to ease the process of clearing goods at points of entry to ensure smooth movement of goods within the region.
At the same time, the summit announced that Uganda and Southern Sudan will by January next year join the one area network which Kenya and Rwanda have already established.
President Kenyatta said initial doubts about loss of taxes under the one area network have been cleared after the realization that reduced taxes on calls leads to more volume hence increased revenue for participating countries.
The summit was also told that customs issues concerning sugar imports from Uganda to Kenya have been resolved.
The summit was also informed that the implementation of the northern corridor integration projects including the Standard Gauge Railways and free movement of labour were making progress.
The summit was also attended by representatives from Southern Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi and Ethiopia, which sent a special envoy.