Kenya, Uganda keen to resolve Migingo row, PS Koech says

Dr Susan Koech addressing the media after the meeting in Nairobi on February 26, 2018. PHOTO | BERNARDINE MUTANU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenya and Uganda have agreed to end hostilities at the common border through a bilateral agreement.

During an inter-ministerial meeting between the two countries held Tuesday in Nairobi, ministers in charge of fisheries in the two countries have resolved to solve the Migingo Island stalemate among other issues by March 15, 2019.

Other issues that were discussed during Tuesday’s meeting included trade, movement of people across the border and relationship between border communities.

“We looked at how we should strengthen relationship between the two countries in terms of culture and trade and how to make our people be able to move freely as envisaged by the common market protocol to ensure that in business that there are no hindrances to trade,” said Dr Susan Koech, the Principal Secretary, Ministry of the East African Community and Regional Development. She said that the two countries are working to eliminate non-tariff barriers.

“There are some decisions we take in the EAC, but sometimes on the ground you find that there are hiccups because they are not implemented well. We decided that we are going to use this bilateral arrangement to talk and iron the issues by making proposals to sort out issues that arise,” said Edith Mwanje, the PS, Ministry of EAC Affairs, Uganda.

She said some of the things that were discussed during the closed door meeting include provision of utilities and facilities at the border including electricity, roads and water.

“We do not encourage conflicts between ourselves, we are working and doing well and we discourage conflicts,” she said.

Smuggling of goods through the porous borders was also discussed and the two sides agreed to increase surveillance across the borders

“If you are moving goods between Kenya and Uganda and they meet the rules of origin, they are not supposed to be taxed,” said the PS.

To move across the EAC, members only need an identity card to move across border.

A consultation forum between communities living in Kenya and Uganda in Busia will be conducted during the meeting, said Ms Mwanje.

Kenyans at Migingo Island have previously complained about harassment by Ugandan security personnel. However, Uganda is one of the biggest trade partners of Kenya.