TANZANIAS NEW CROSS BORDER VEHICLE FEES DISOWNED BY GOVERNMENT
Information from Dar es Salaam overnight confirmed that the Minister for East African Cooperation Mr. Samuel Sitta, has denounced the introduction of a US D 200 border crossing vehicle fee 10 days ago as not sanctioned by government, saying it was a unilateral and unauthorized decision by border authorities.
There were rowdy scenes reported at the main land borders at Taveta and Namanga, when Tanzanian officials tried to extract the extra payment, prompting a range of measures from in particular Kenya, which yesterday sent a high ranking delegation to Dar es Salaam to seek clarification on the issue and demand an immediate withdrawal of what has been called a punitive and discriminatory measure by a partner state in the EAC.
Traders and regular business travelers however let fly in much harsher terms as sentiments against Tanzania again boiled over, accusing the country to be lukewarm towards the East African Community, making doing business with them difficult through a range of non tariff barriers and being frankly paranoid about anything Kenyan according to a regular source from Nairobi. A leading business organization representative added: The restrictions on even the trade in shares, where the limits of foreign participation, and mind you, even us EAC member countries are termed foreign for the purpose of that restriction, are not good for the integration of our economies. Look at Uganda and Rwanda, they have NO limits at all and cross listing there, or having us invest in companies, is very easy now and helps them raise capital. Then there is the issue of work permits. Again, Rwanda and Uganda and Kenya are in agreement to do away with these requirements and limit the need for work permits to citizens from outside the EAC. Yet, Tanzania treats us as foreigners. They prohibit Ugandan, Rwandan and Kenyan safari companies to take their tourists to the national parks in Tanzania, while again between the other member states such prohibitive measures do not exist. They limit our charter airlines from Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya to fly safari passengers only to the main airports and prohibit landing in the parks to drop tourists off, making for unnecessary expenses and wasting time. We appreciate governments have to talk nice but I think the time has come to call Tanzanias bluff and let them show their true colours, either they are East Africans or they are not in which case let them part company. We are fed up with such things, taking 200 Dollars from someone crossing the border to sell or buy goods? And let us not be lied to, nothing happens in Tanzania without government sanction on that level. It was a move aimed against Kenya and against Kenyans and we had enough of it now.
Ugandan aviation sources yesterday again confirmed the restrictive handling of flight clearances for charters operating from Entebbe to Tanzania, claiming it undermined the spirit of East African cooperation and the various protocols in place governing EAC internal relations but also continental aviation resolutions like made in Lusaka and in Yamoussoukro.
No commitment was made by the minister though that the punitive and extortionist fee of US Dollars 200 would be lifted with immediate effect, only speaking of an upcoming site visit to gather additional information, leaving motorists crossing into Tanzania from neighbouring Kenya to suffer the fallout of apparent internal squabbles over jurisdiction. Watch this space.