Photo: SDEAA Political Affairs Director Mr. Njoka addresses participants during a two-day workshop for security personnel,customs and Kenya revenue officers along the Northern Corridor on Non-Tariff barriers to intra EAC trade  in a Nakuru hotel.

A two- day workshop for top security personnel, KRA, Kenya Transport Association, KAM, KENHA members was held in Nakuru with a call to policy makers to address clauses in the New Constitution that hinder free movement free Movement of persons, goods and services destined within the EAC Member States.

Acting Inspector-General of Police Mr. Samuel Arachi cited the recent blockage of roads by hungry wananchi along Narok Mai Mahiu/Mai Mahiu/Naivasha, as some of the challenges that hinder the free movement of goods and services by both Kenyans and our neighbors.

‘Free assembly, picketing by Wananchi through even blocking of our highways are enshrined in the New Constitution dispensation regardless of whether they inconvenient other road users or not” Lamented Mr. Arachi.

The constitution provides for free association and picketing by wananchi wherever they wanted to express dissatisfaction against the policy makers. The move completely inconveniences neighbors movement and their goods.

Mr Arachi’s sentiments were read in a speech by the Rift Valley Regional police Commander Mr.Amara.

The workshop brainstormed on the way forward in addressing Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) that affect Kenya such as corruption, long procedures of clearing goods and services, re-introduction of countries, insecurity, and a requirement by the Kenya Revenue Authority for importers to have a letter of introduction from Uganda Revenue Authority when importing sensitive goods.

Article 13 of the Custom Union provides for immediate removal of all Non-Tariff Barriers on importation of goods originating within the EAC member countries.

In his opening remarks, the Principal Secretary in the State Department of East African Affairs Mr.John O.Konchellah acknowledged that NTBs hampered trade, increased costs of doing business and stalled free movement of goods.”The EAC Affairs is focusing in eliminating barriers of trade, increasing free movement of persons, labour, goods and capital” he said.

In response to the threats caused by NTBs to intra-trade the community has put in place several measures o strengthen national and regional committees as well as monitoring tools.

The challenge that comes with elimination of NTBs is their mutative nature. They can be imposed and withdrawn at will. Their imposition can attract statutory measures from affected partner states which add costs and transit time for goods traded across borders.

The forum brought together various security agencies at Kenya’s port of entry, national borders, and weighbridges in various parts of the country and other stakeholders.; National Policy Service, National Intelligence Service, Kenya Revenue Authority, Ministry of Interior and Immigration, Weighbridges, Kenya Transporters Association, KAM,KIFWA,KENHA among others. The workshop brainstormed on how to eliminate NTBs to Intra-trade in the EAC region so as to promote cross border trade, investments and social interactions.

Mr.Konchellah said security Agencies are significant stakeholders in the integration process and that Kenya cannot participate fully in the EAC Integration without full support from all stakeholders.

He took the participants through the Journey towards integration of EAC ,which he said was on course “we established the Customs Union in 005 and progressively implemented its provisions that were contributed in 2010”.He added, key components of Customs Union are Customs Territory. The objective of single Customs Territory is to speed up circulation of goods within the community by collapsing national borders. Single Customs Territory leads to increased Intra-regional trade and would help EA gain move its resources.

To further facilitate cross-border trade, the Community is in the process of constructing One Stop Border posts at the major border posts. Along this border line, ongoing works at Lunga lunga,Horo horo, Taveta/Holili, Namanga/Namanga and Sirari/Isebania border posts. OSBPs are based on the idea that entry and exit formalities will be expeditiously handled under one roof. It is expected that these facilities, will speed up movement of goods, persons and services by bringing together border facilitating agencies from both sides of the border to operate under roof.

Nakuru County Commissioner Mr. Birik called on security officers to ensure the movement of goods and services within the corridor reach their destinations securely and timely. He aid there was need to share security intelligence reports with other security agents within the EAC region so as to combat terrorism.

He criticized the tendency by security agencies to address insecurity issues after it has occurred.”You need to be proactive, nip in the bud impending security threats before they happen, rather than being   reactionary” he stressed.

Mr Amara said poor infrastructure within the corridor contributed to the slow response to insecurity issues.

Director of Political Affairs in the SDEAA Mr. David Njoka guided participants into analyzing NTBs imposed by Kenya, covered topics such as ; Enhancing EAC Integration; free movement of Goods, persons, labour and services; rights of residence and establishment-provisions, achievements and challenges.

Other areas covered by participants included Single window and cargo tracking systems in the context of single Customs Territory; Diplomacy as a method of promoting cohesion among the citizens of EAC; Roadmap for East Africa Monetary Union-Benefits and challenges.

Integration Secretary Mr.Barrack Ndegwa challenged participants to seal all loopholes that could be used by Kenya’s neighbors to open new ports/routes for transporting their goods.