Public Communications Unit

15.04.2016

EALAPRESSGovernors along Kenya/Tanzanian Border counties have committed to ensure EAC integration is achieved through collaborative approach. Taita Taveta and Kwale Counties which host the Holili/Taveta and Lungalunga/Horohoro border posts respectively gave an undertaking following consultative meetings during an extensive tour and Forums by the East African Legislative Assembly (K) in early April 2016.

The EALA members, who in their representation and outreach roles sought to reach different stakeholders held wide consultations in the two border posts and with the two County governments. In a tour to the Lunga Lunga One Stop Border Post, the EALA got an impressive progress of the construction though informed of some bottlenecks which require clear policy and framework to make the operations of the facility smooth, effective and efficient. It’s during a closed door meeting with the Leaders of different organizations, the Immigration, KRA and National Government representatives that members were informed that the OSBP which began operations on the February 2016 had challenges of power outages and water shortage, among other logistical but surmountable issues.Hlili

Addressing the stakeholders, the area County Commissioner lauded the operations of the OSBP saying it had meant control of security issues and business orderly and manageable. He termed Kwale as one of the “Front offices” for other counties to the other East African partners hence its substance on matters EAC integration. He said that the county stands to enjoy more benefits if at all the locals embraced the opportunities and reduced on the risks like human trafficking and smuggling of goods. The Commissioner indicated that there were challenges across the borders on issues of Certificates of origin, Business permits and other policy documents challenging the leaders to sensitize the citizens on the same. He however encouraged the members to push for the full implementation of the Common Market Protocol to ensure that traders were free across the borders.

The County Executive in Charge of Trade and Cooperative department, also a former EALA member Ms. Safina Kwekwe pledged the county’s commitment to work with all agencies to make EAC integration beneficial to all. Ms. Kwekwe said that the county has put up deliberate efforts to connect Small Business Enterprises to common markets in the region giving an example of Nguvu Kazi Jua kali exhibitions where local artisans from the county have participated without fail. On matters tourism, the CEC challenged EALA members to fast track the EAC Tourism Bill which ought to be anchored in a law to iron out the lapses that curtail an East African Tourism common approach as opposed to single partner states.

The Kwale Governor, Salim Mvurya embraced the County sensitizations terming them key and an eye opener especially for Kenya’s new constitutional dispensation. Mvurya said Counties are best suited to synergize with other relevant institutions in informing people on the opportunities provided by the EAC. The Governor, who was addressing the members who had called on him in his office challenged EALA to ensure a clear frame work of operations especially for shared resources like river Umba and other ecosystems. He embraced the flurry of activities across Kenya and Tanzania indicating that every Monday people transit from Tanga and other places to trade on the Kenyan side and encouraged more of these bilateral economic and social engagements. The Governor, who is the Vice chair of the Council of Governors pledged to rally his counterparts in making EAC Integration an agenda for all counties. He assured members that the county had planned to establish social amenities in the Lunga Lunga border to encourage more trade ties across the borders. He gave an undertaking to engage the National Government and ensure the Bagamoyo-Tanga-Horohoro-Malindi-Mombasa road was constructed to enhance transport across the two partner states.

 DSC7610These sediments were echoed by his Taita Taveta County Eng. John Mrutu, who called on more cooperation among all stakeholders to ensure integration was beneficial for all. Mrutu who addressed Stakeholders in an EALA Public Forum in Voi town affirmed his commitment in ensuring that devolution collaborated with EAC integration to benefit the citizenly. He cited the recently opened Holili/Taveta Border which he termed as a key development strategy of the people across the two partner states. Eng.Mrutu said that the construction of the Multinational Arusha-Holili-Taveta-Mwatate-Voi road is in the East African Community plan of developing missing links along the regional infrastructure corridor. With statistics indicating that in the past five years, trade between Kenya and Tanzania has grown by over 40%, completion of this road would ensure trade go up by another 10% .It will also ease movement of persons and goods between Kenya and Tanzania, as well to the great lakes region

He emphasized on the crucial role played by the regional assembly in championing regional social and economic prospects. “Today, the Community stands at the door of great promise – of peace and security, economic development and better standards of life for our people.The East African Community integration process so far has had its impacts felt far and wide by the citizens of the EAC member states and the future looks bright, The Customs Union which started in 2000 involved two things. First the free movement of goods produced by EAC member states and second, a common external tariff. With this free movement of goods, it has provided a market of 176 million people which the people of Taita Taveta County can take advantage of and do business in the region” mrutu said

The chair of EALA-Kenya chapter Nancy Abisai noted that the establishment of 15 one stop border posts, where one is in Taveta town, is a key milestone that has been realized by the community. She observed that these posts have greatly eased movement of persons and goods across the borders besides enhancing cross border cohesion and trade, though more efforts need to be put by member states to make the situation even better. The Taveta one stop border post, which Abisai termed as the Kenyan model OSBP has helped reduce clearance time at the border between 30% and 40%, a clear pointer and a positive trend for ease of doing business since it began its operations on 04/05/205. She gave an assurance that the assembly would do its best to ensure some rigid requirements of business establishment among member states and requirements to obtain work permits or certificates of temporary assignments are scrapped.

Hon Judith Pareno, an EALA member explicated that East Africans are interacting at a rising rate, and exchanging information, goods and services in such growing volumes that the borders have become mere formalities. She said this popular desire makes integration inevitable in due course. She however indicated there were still unresolved challenges like non-tariff barriers which continue to plague competitiveness of our region by raising the cost of doing business. “Despite the tremendous progress in doing business, this particular barrier has hindered to the exploitation of market opportunities available in East Africa Businesses. Most certainly, non-tariff barriers significantly erode the mutual competitive advantage expected from integration” Pareno said.

Other members of EALA present were Zein Abubakar Zein, Peter Mathuki, Ogle Abubakar, Sarah Bonaya, Mumbi Ngaru, Joseph Kiangoi And Saole Ole Nakanae.