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Lack of awareness on EAC customs union hampers trade

The EA Customs Union operations have remained opaque to traders since its launch in 2005, claims the business community at Isebania border town.

The traders in Migori County say that the ineffectiveness results from poor understanding of its concept by the business people in the region.

Although there had been an improvement in the amount of goods traded between Kenya and Tanzania, the group points out that more efforts are still needed to make the union a success.

“Currently there are a lot of complaints from the business people that they do not understand how the union operates, and probably this has reduced the speed of the implementation of the union,” said Mr. Ibrahim Hussein, a prominent businessman in the area.

He pointed out that apart from lack of awareness, structures at the border post could not handle the movement of goods from one country to another smoothly.

The trader accused a clique of some customs staff at the post of employing double standards and called on the state to take action against them.

“We do not like the attitude of some of the staff manning the post and their behaviour contributes greatly to the poor performance of the union in the region,” added Mr. Hussein.

However, another trader John Irungu said, although there are a lot of bottlenecks hindering free trade at the border, business had increased significantly between the people from the two states.

Customs officials from both sides of the border posts however denied claims about staff being rude to traders, but confirmed that many of the business people lacked proper knowledge on the concept of the customs union.

The officials who refused to be quoted admitted however that there was urgent need to increase awareness among the business people of member states on the operations of the union to enable it to function more effectively.

By George Agimba

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