The National government will open a new customs border point along the West Pokot County administrative boundary with neighboring Uganda.
The custom point is meant to boost national revenue collection and ensure effective and controlled trade affairs between residents from the two countries.
Speaking on Wednesday at Konyao Trading Centre in North Pokot sub county, the Director of Boarder Management Secretariat (BMS), Kennedy Nyairo said the integration will ensure that the government manages both legal and illegal movement of people and goods across the border in a coordinated and comprehensive manner.
“We have been in West Pokot County since Sunday and we have engaged relevant parties and discussed the need for a border point at length. We are certain the Konyao border point is suitable in terms of security, road transport, availability of land and the distance between the immediate border,” Nyaiyo said.
The team led by the West Pokot County Commissioner (CC), Apollo Okello on Tuesday visited the area and held a public sensitization forum on the same. The team comprised of representatives from the Immigration Department, East African Community, Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority, KEPHIS, Kenya Airports Authority among other relevant entities.
Okello urged residents to welcome the government move, saying the border point will be beneficial to the locals and the county at large and further assured the team of peace.
The county security team informed the BMS that most of the illicit trade mainly involved t alcohol and sugar consignments from Uganda and traders import without paying tariffs
“A large amount of sugar and beer are from Uganda. The beer that is consumed in Pokot North and Pokot Central sub counties comes from Uganda and sells cheaper. A bottle of beer is going at Sh.100 while that from Kenya goes at between Sh.180 – 220,” said Okello.
The MCAs led by Leader of Minority in the Assembly, Peter Lokor said the project has the backing of local politicians terming its benefits as tremendous to the residents since it will create employment and open other opportunities.
Lokor further complained about land disputes in the region and asked the offices involved to give a clear communication on who is supposed to deal with land matters.
“We know the benefits that this will come with. It will bring job opportunities to our youth and promote cross border trade. It will also boost county government revenue. Land issues will be sorted out,” said Lokor.
Residents supported the establishment of the border point which is about 200 meters away from the Uganda site and proposed it to be named Alakas.
Though the idea seemed to be welcome, some residents still had fears of displacement and compensation should they be needed to move to give space for the construction of the border point.
Joshua Korinyang pleaded with the government to consider area residents for the land they will provide and requested for justice and fairness to prevail in case of any compensation.
“We are worried that if the government comes we might be subjected to what we suffered during the Turkwel Gorge project where many of us incurred losses after giving away our land only for us to get peanuts in return,” said Korinyang.
The County Lands Chief Officer, Peter Adoki assured residents that the county government had surveyed the area and found 200 acres’ public land available which will only be used with the involvement of the residents.
“Already the County government has surveyed the area and we have about 200 acres of public utility land at the border point. A few acres will be allocated for the Alakas border point and others will be set aside for any public utility. Part of the land will be allocated to the locals as plots,” said Adoki.
By John Saina/Wandukusi Wanyama/ Rose Masibo