The Kenya Border Management Secretariat (BMS) made a tour of the Kenya/Tanzania border in Migori County Thursday and assured of efforts to improve relationship in all sphere of partnership.
Led by the BMS Director, Kennedy Nyayo, the team made up of various government agencies identified Tanzania and Uganda as offering Kenya a big market for goods and human labour.
Nyayo said Kenya cannot afford to breach the good relationship it enjoys with the two neighbouring countries and urged leaders in Migori County to take advantage of the good environment to scale up the existing cross border trade in the region.
He said the team was in Migori to assess all situations at the border that affects the cooperation between the people of the two nations on issues of security, trade and free move of goods and Human cargo across the common border.
In a meeting with County Executive Committee (CECs) members, the BMS boss said security in the region was a major priority to Kenya, announcing plans to revitalize border posts with vibrant security surveillance.
“We are here to assess the viability and accessibility of existing border posts – Ntimaru, Muhuru, Gwitembe and Kopanga – to understand the volume of cross-border trade they are able to handle and the security situation affecting their smooth operations,” said Nyayo.
The County government must also be ready to allocate enough land for the expansion of the border posts with a view to increase the volume of trade between the two nations.
However, the CEC Trade and Tourism, Mrs. Sheila Gati expressed concern at the harassment Kenyan traders were experiencing in the hands of the Tanzanian authorities.
Gati said despite being strategically placed on the tourism corridor to the famous Maasai Mara and Serengeti game parks, Migori was receiving a raw deal in business with the neigbouring country due to uncalled for harassment of the business community by the Tanzania police.
But Wakhungu Juma, a Senior Director at the ministry of East African Affairs said the 10-15 kilometre free zone was not anchored in the East African Community law and that Kenyans should not use that roadside pronouncement by leaders to breach the law requiring people to have travel documents to enter foreign counties.
Wakhungu underscored the need for people to acquire work permit and all business documents when venturing in cross-border trade in order to avoid brushing shoulders with authorities of the neigbouring nations.
“It is not the policy of Tanzania to harass Kenyans entering the nation but the work of individual officers acting on their own for unspecified intentions,” said Wakhungu.
Also in the team was a Commissioner at National Police Service, Lillian Okembo, Migori County Commissioner, Joseph Rotich, Migori Police Commander, Joseph Nthenge and Immigration Officer – Isebania Border town, Bernard Chabari among other senior government officials.
By George Agimba