NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 28 – Talks between Kenya and Tanzania on existing wrangles over cross-border trade will kick off in Arusha on Monday next week.
Newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of East African Community (EAC) and Northern Corridor Development, Peter Munya, told a news conference on Wednesday that a technical team had already been constituted to engage with their Tanzanian counterparts.
According to Munya, the team of experts will work on ironing out differences between the two countries that have often resulted in the confiscation and destruction of Kenyan products by Tanzanian authorities.
On February 13, 5,000 day-old chicks were captured by Tanzanian authorities, the country’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Livestock, Maria Mashingo, telling the media that the chicks were not properly documented.
A similar incident had been recorded in October last year when 6,400 chicks were seized by Tanzania.
Cows belonging to Kenyan headers have also been impounded for “illegally grazing” in Tanzania.
“I have asked my technical staff to get in touch with their counterparts in Tanzania so that at the onset of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) we can have a first meeting that would lead to the resolution of issues affecting us,” Munya said at a formal ceremony during which the outgoing Cabinet Secretary, Phyllis Kandie, who was nominated by President Uhuru Kenyatta as Kenya’s envoy to Belgium, Luxembourg, and the EU, handed over the ministry.
Setting up of the technical team follows a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli requiring relevant ministries to resolve constant tiffs between Kenyan and Tanzanian authorities at the borderline.
Kenyatta and Magufuli gave the directive to their respective ministers on the sidelines of the EAC heads of states summit held in Uganda last week.
“We have small issues relating to businesses and traders between Kenya and Tanzania. We want Kenya and Tanzania ministers to meet urgently and resolve these issues,” President Magufuli said following a meeting with President Kenyatta at Lake Victoria resort, Munyonyo, on the outskirts of Kampala.
“These are small matters that should be resolved quickly. As leaders, we don’t have a problem. We are okay,” he added.
In a brief comment, President Kenyatta said the constant trade disputes required to be resolved swiftly so that the economies of the two nations can continue to thrive.
“These small matters require urgent attention,” he said.
During his Wednesday briefing, Munya also added that Kenya will continue exploring partnership agreements with its EAC neighbours including the opening up of more one-stop border posts.
He said, for instance, a second joint border post with Uganda will be opened in Namanga between April and May this year.
The first common border facility was commissioned on Sunday in Busia by President Kenyatta and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.
Kenya has a similar facility at the Taveta-Holili border with Tanzania.
EAC heads of states are keen on enhancing joint operations at the border points in order to accelerate the movement of goods between member countries.