Bungoma commissioner urges free movement of trade across EA countries
07 March 2014, 20:51
Nairobi - Kenyan citizens have been urged to take advantage of the use of national Identity cards as travel documents to cross into Uganda and other East African countries and do business.
The ID initiative that was officially launched last month by the head of states of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda is meant to facilitate free movement across the three countries as stipulated in the East African Common Market protocol.
Speaking at Lwakhakha town, that is at the Kenya and Uganda border point in Sirisia Constituency on Thursday, during a tour to find out if the free movement system is working, Bungoma County Commissioner Maalim Mohamed said businesspeople in the country have no excuse not to expand their trade.
"This is a golden opportunity for local traders especially in Bungoma County to conduct cross-border trade. It has created more market for products and services please make use of it," said Mohamed, who underwent immigration formalities at the Kenyan exit and Ugandan entry point using his ID, to ascertain whether the system works.
Maalim noted that there is need for sensitisation campaign on the directive that is expected to further boost regional integration, noting that most residents of both nations have misconstrued it to mean that they can cross the border without any documents at all.
"Some overexcited people am told erroneously believe that since the directive of use of only IDs to cross allows free movement, they can do so freely. This is not the case, sensitization should be carried out not only to encourage them to take advantage of the
directive, but also explain to the residents what it entails," said the County Commissioner.
The county commissioner admitted that the fast tracked movement may pose a security challenge as criminals may take advantage of it, but noted that the security agents across the countries are working together, a coordination that is aimed at mitigating cross-border crime.
"The security agencies in the two countries are also working with other relevant agencies including the registration and immigration departments. We can not afford to work in isolation, with the current threats of insecurity, including terrorism," said Maalim, who was accompanied by other members county intelligence and security committee team.
Levy Nabangi ,a local Bungoma West Knut official called for the improvement of infrastructure especially the main Chwele- Lwakhakha road to boost trade at the border town. "We want Lwakhakha town to be fully elevated to a full border town, and that can only be done if the road network is improved. This will go along way in decongesting Malaba and even Busia towns,” said Nabangi.
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