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Tanzania raises concern over Kenyan ban on cooking gas imports

Paul Gitachu ferries an assortment of cooking gas cylinders in Ol Kalou Town in Nyandarua County, February 21, 2016. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A Kenyan ferries an assortment of cooking gas cylinders, February 21, 2016. The Tanzanian government has expressed concern over Nairobi’s refusal to allow cooking gas imports through Tanzania land borders. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Tanzanian government has expressed concern over Nairobi’s refusal to allow Tanzanian exporters to transport cooking gas to Kenya through Kenya-Tanzania land borders.

Industry, Trade and Investment Permanent Secretary Prof Adolf Mkenda, in a statement on Thursday, said Tanzania had only learnt of the ban through the Kenyan media.

He said Kenya’s decision was against East Africa Community (EAC) protocol and had breached an agreement reached between the two countries after Kenya imposed a ban on importation of cooking gas from Tanzania on May 18, 2017.

Prof Mkenda said Kenya’s decision had affected businesses and ordinary citizens who earn their living through cooking gas trade.

He noted that the issue had featured during an EAC sectorial meeting in early June that brought together ministers of trade, industry, finance and investments from EAC member states.

He said the June 2, 2017 meeting reached a decision that Kenya should lift the ban in adherence to the EAC protocol.

“During the meeting, Kenya agreed to lift the ban on importation of cooking gas and wheat through Tanzania-Kenya borders,” he said.

“However, it is with great disappointment that we have learnt through the Kenyan press that Kenya government has continued to implement the ban,” Prof Mkenda added

He said he has already registered complaints by the Tanzanian government on the matter through his Kenyan counterpart

Wheat ban

Besides imposing a ban on importation of cooking gas through the two countries’ borders, Kenya has imposed a ban on importation of wheat, which, according to Prof Mkenda, is against EAC trade regulations.

He said that following Kenya’s decision, the Tanzanian government would continue to take measures to ameliorate the situation. However, the PS didn’t elaborate what measures have been taken so far.

Asked to elaborate, Prof Mkenda said in a telephone interview with The Citizen that it was too early to reveal the measures that have been taken by the government in the wake of Kenya’s decision.

He, however, reaffirmed that Tanzania would continue to adhere to EAC protocol.

“We will continue to strengthen trade relations between us and other EAC member states…we still believe Kenya is one of our key partners when it comes to trade in the EAC bloc,” Prof Mkenda said in the statement, adding:

“We believe that decisions which are made in the official meetings between EAC member states must be implemented by concerned parties.”

Price surge

The decision by Kenya’s Energy ministry raised the possibility of a shortage of cooking gas and a surge in the prices of the commodity.

On April 24, Kenya's Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau announced the ban on gas imports through Tanzania, a move meant to eliminate illegal cooking gas filling plants that posed safety and security risks.

“The Cabinet Secretary has written a letter to Energy Regulatory Commissions, Customs and Kenya Bureau of Standards and designated Mombasa as the only point of import for LPG. So if you want to play in this game, come and invest in Kenya, import through Mombasa and then we can now follow up who is supplying unlicensed dealers. But now this whole thing about Tanzania is a thing of the past,” Mr Kamau then said at a briefing for oil marketing companies.

Mr Kamau later confirmed that the full implementation would begin by the end of the month.