A row is brewing between Kenyan traders and Tanzania’s custom officials following the introduction of Sh16, 400 ($200) levy at the Namanga border.
Tanzania’s custom officials continue to defy an order by their East African Community minister Samuel Sitta that the levy against Kenyan traders’ crossing to Tanzania be abolished.
Tanzanian Revenue Authority (TRA) is not only levying the amount, but is also said to have increased it toThis has insensed Kenyan truck drivers who are threatening to block the border in retaliation – the same way they did with Taita-Taveta Kenya-Tanzania border point of Holili following a similar incident.
"We do not understand why we are being asked to pay more while trucks from Tanzania part with only $25. We shall barricade this road," said a truck driver.
At a recent meeting at Namanga border post, attended by Kenya’s East Africa Community minister, Musa Sirma, and customs and immigration officials from both sides, the Tanzanian minister blamed TRA officials for the mishap.
"Customs officials have no authority to introduce new tariffs without consultations with the ministry of EAC and other relevant ministries of the Republic of Tanzania," Sitta said.
"The $200 is undermining the spirit of EAC integration and business along our borders and should not be allowed to continue.
Its purpose is to prevent the implementation of a Common Market," he stated.
Sitta said the amount is only levied for purposes of work permits. "TRA officials should examine the immigration forms carefully to avoid a situation where a trader bringing in food or livestock for sell is penalized," he said.
Tanzania’s actions are against the spirit of the EAC Common Market, which came into force in 2010 and calls for free movement of goods and people across the region. If the matter remains unsolved, traders from both sides stand to incur losses.