A select group of East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) members participated in a field assessment as they visited border points between Tanzania and Kenya from 23 to 30 May 2015.
The cross-border areas visited by the members were Namanga, Isinya, Athi-River, Nairobi Export Processing Zone, Kisumu, Malaba, Kapenguria, Busia, Siral and Isibania. The delegation met with representatives of East African Community (EAC) ministries, government officials, customs officers and agents, traders, and border communities and their leaders.
The emphasis of this outreach activity was to solicit experience and input from these stakeholders on the role of EALA in spearheading the implementation of the East African Customs Union and the Common Market.
More specifically, members of the delegation aimed to assess the level of preparedness for the operationalisation of the one-stop border post of Namanga and the local initiatives to integrate the communities on either side of the border; to establish the linkages between the EAC single customs and the Partner States and to find out whether local communities were consulted; to identify the challenges that are faced by the various actors and stakeholders and make recommendations to address them; to visit site installations and facilities to acquaint members with cargo handling and clearing procedures; and to hold discussions on how to promote the EAC integration across border communities.
Members and stakeholders visited various regional projects, with a focus on, amongst other issues, road infrastructure; immigration systems; connections across borders; areas accustomed to non-tariff barriers; one-stop border post infrastructures and cargo transit procedures; implementation of the EAC single customs territory procedures; and customs systems interconnectivity. Members also familiarised themselves with the EAC passports and regional cooperatives.
The delegation was informed that some challenges exist in the implementation process of the Customs Union and the Common Market. These include limited knowledge on the process; changes are being implemented without adequately consulting the key stakeholders, making it difficult to roll over new procedures and practices. If not addressed properly, this could lead to substantial losses or litigation.
Lastly, local communities who wish to engage in the informal sector or small business enterprises across the border are seriously curtailed in their operations; and revenue authorities officials face difficult and ever-changing processes necessitated partly as a result of changes in the relevant laws, regulations and policies.