Kenya, Tanzania resolves Namanga maize row, CS Moses Kuria says

Investment, Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria

Investment, Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Cabinet Secretary for Trade and Investment Moses Kuria has said that trucks held up at the Namanga border have been released, even as he urged Kenyans importing food from Tanzania to apply for export permits.

Mr Kuria said the trucks were allowed to enter the country on the orders of Presidents William Ruto and Samia Suluhu, following a virtual meeting between Kuria and his Tanzanian counterpart Ashatu Kijaji.

"This evening (Saturday), I held a virtual meeting with my counterpart from the United Republic of Tanzania, Hon Ashatu Kijaji. On the instructions of President William Ruto and his sister President Samia Suluhu Hassan, we have agreed that all maize and other food trucks held up at Namanga and Holili border posts will be allowed entry," Kuria said.

"All Kenyan importers of Tanzanian food products are reminded to apply for export permits online to avoid inconvenience. Our two sisterly nations are committed to removing all trade barriers in the spirit of East African cooperation. We are grateful to Presidents Ruto and Suluhu for upholding this spirit," he added.

The trucks, about 200 of them, were held up at the border after Tanzania stopped issuing export permits.  Traders hoping to make a profit from their shipments were stuck for days, even as they complained of daily losses.

New guidelines issued by Tanzania's Ministry of Agriculture will require Kenyan traders wishing to import maize from the country to open and register local offices in Dar es Salaam from 1 July 2023. Traders will also be required to obtain trading licences from Tanzania's Business Registrations and Licensing Agency, as well as tax clearance certificates. Without these, they will not be able to export grain.

The maize traders will have to pay about Sh138,000 in taxes under the export and import rules and regulations.

"A truck carrying 20 tonnes of maize and above will pay Sh75,000 while those carrying less than 20 tonnes will part with Sh45,000," the East African was told.

However, some trucks are still stuck at the border, with Tanzania's Agriculture Minister Hussein Bashe blaming Kenyan exporters for failing to provide the necessary documentation. The affected traders now face possible seizure of their consignments by the Tanzanian government, although some complained that the permits they were issued had expired by the time they reached the border.

"There are no documents to legalise the export of the stranded maize at Namanga and no food safety and quality certificates from Kenya," said Bashe.

In addition to following Tanzania's new guidelines, Kenyan traders wishing to import crops must obtain a permit from the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, which ensures that the produce is of good quality and will not adversely affect the country's health, environment and economy.