The Principal Secretary in the State Department of East African Affairs Mr. John O Konchellah has called on County governments bordering Kenya’s EAC Partner States of Uganda, Tanzania to formulate a cooperative strategy that will develop a joint approach to harmonization of laws, rules and regulations and to propose a structure of engagement with his Department in order to enable them approach EAC integration from a common platform.

He assured that the National Government is determined to build, nurture and enhance cooperative linkages and to seek synergy with Counties because it is the right thing to do and counties are places where the people of Kenya whom all counties collectively served, are based.

He was speaking during a three-day forum for Border Inter-Counties forum on regional integration of laws, rules and regulations on cross boarder trade at a Bungoma Hotel. The forum was opened by the Integration Secretary for East African Affairs, Mr. Barrack Ndegwa in a speech he read to the participants.

Stressing the strategic importance of border Counties, Mr. Konchellah stated that they served as gateways to our country. It therefore follows that cross border trade and other lawful transactions taking place at our borders should benefit our counties. However this can only happen if necessary infrastructures are developed and available opportunities explored. In this regard, it is imperative that border counties should take a lead in mobilizing resources to improve border markets among other infrastructure initiatives to enable border communities take advantage of the liberalized Intra-EAC trade regime.’’ he stressed.

Mr. Konchellah said the National Government has already taken the first initiative by modernizing its borders. The government was also constructing One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) facilities at all major border points in liaison with the EAC Partner States in order to improve movement of goods and persons. Once OSBPs are launched, they will reduce the time taken to clear cargo and persons. The concept of OSBP envisages a scenario where all exit and entry formalities are combined and handled at one location- in the country of destination.

Bungoma County Commissioner Mr. Maalim Mohammed said there was serious need to harmonize rules on brewing of traditional brews, since its use was not prohibited in Uganda, yet in Kenya it was illegal t consume it.

He assured that the county was now a secure and safe haven for business to thrive, and called on the county governments to support the national government by formulating laws, rules, and regulations which did not stifle the spirit of EAC Integration.

Mr. Ndegwa and Mr. Alfred Kitolo presented an overview of the EAC Integration journey, legal framework, and East African Community Integration; implications to Devolution.