Taveta traders accuse Tanzania border officials of harassment

Deputy President William Ruto. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT

Taita Taveta traders using the Taveta-Holili border point have urged the government to engage Dar es Salaam to stop increased harassment by Tanzanian authorities.

The traders accused the Tanzania creating obstacles that impede free trade between the two countries.

The traders said despite Nairobi and Dar es Salaam signing a joint trade pact to allow traders to cross the border freely, Tanzanian police at the border continue to harass Kenyans arbitrarily.

Peter Kandia, a trader, said a Tanzanian officer at border post recently destroyed his temporary passport after he sought to know why he had been kept waiting for long without being served.

He said he had arrived at the border late at night because his goods supplier turned up late for their meeting in Moshi town.

“The officer demanded to know what I had been doing in Tanzania but he seemed not to buy my explanation. My efforts to let me go home proved futile and he instead tore my passport,” he said.

“Sometimes they demand bribes from us and because we don’t want the harassment we are forced to give them money.”

Taita Taveta Chamber of Commerce director Sofia Mnene said Kenyan traders thought the East African Community integration treaty would ease trade but it has instead became a nightmare.

“Tanzania does not respect the agreement made by the EAC that allows us to mingle freely. Their citizens think we are thieves who only go to their country to steal,” she said.

Ms Mnene said some traders’ efforts to open shops in Himo, Tanzania, failed due to harassment by police and locals.

She said it was unfair to see Tanzanian traders being allowed to open shops in Taveta yet Kenyans cannot trade in Tanzania freely.

“Women traders are the most affected by such harassments. We hope the two governments will solve such challenges fast,” said Ms Mnene.
She said women traders were last week held a meeting with Tanzania and Kenya revenue authority officers over the issue.

County Trade director Richard Kibengo said efforts by the county government to solve the problem has not borne fruit.

“As you know this issue involves two governments so it is hard for us to engage with the neighbouring country at our level,” he said.

On Tuesday, Deputy President William Ruto said in Taveta he would engage Tanzania to address the grievances.

“We all have to benefit from this pact. We cannot allow our people to be harassed while their people are freely doing business in our country,” he said.

PAYE Tax Calculator

Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.