Ksh61 billion Kenya-Tanzania trade deals threatened by simmering border row

Tanzanian trucks at the Kenyan border. [Photo Citizen Digital]

 A directive first issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta to close Kenya-Tanzania borders with the exemption of cargo movement has threatened to water down Ksh61 billion trade deals between the two countries.

This has been occasioned by a rather stern retaliation by Tanzanian authorities who have ordered for total closure of its borders with Tanzania.

Tanzanian authorities have since closed and blocked Kenyan trucks from entering Tanzanian at the Lunga Lunga/Horohoro and Taveta/Holili border points.

This is even as Kenya’s East African Community CS Adan Mohamed insists that President Uhuru’s statement on the containment of COVID-19 at the border was misinterpreted.

Uhuru’s directive was that no driver would be allowed to enter Kenya without showing that he/she is has tested negative for coronavirus.

“We are aware that there are a few trucks of Kenyan registration that have been denied access and entry into Tanzania,” CS Adan said on Tuesday adding that “but we have not stopped processing vehicles coming from Tanzania into Kenya.”

He added that a proposal by Uhuru that the drivers get tested back in Tanzania, has not been adhered to by Tanzanian truck drivers.

“Tanzanian drivers have not been coming with certificates and that’s why we have decided to do the tests in Namanga. The delays that you see there is because we have to administer the tests ourselves and we do not have any certificates that are coming from the Tanzanian side,” the EAC CS explained.

On Tuesday, Kenya’s Ambassador to Tanzania Dan Kazungu held a consultative meeting and explained to Tanzanian stakeholders that Kenya’s directive was not in any way meant to severe the good relationship Kenya enjoys with her neighbour.

The Health Ministry said that so far, 182 Tanzanians have tested positive for coronavirus on the Namanga and Isebania border posts over the last few weeks.

Tanzania is a lead exporter of fresh produce – onions and oranges – to Kenya. In 2019, a total of Ksh27.70 billion worth of goods from Tanzania was transported to Kenya.

In the same period, Kenya transported consumer goods and machinery to Tanzania worth Ksh33.86 billion going by data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

East African Business Council (EABC) CEO Dr Peter Mathuki said it will schedule a meeting between Kenya and Tanzania EAC Ministers to iron out the issue.