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Smuggling thrives along Kenya and Uganda border

Smuggling of goods across Suam border point is costing Kenya and Uganda millions of shillings.

The high demand for key commodities, especially from Kenyan consumers due to lack of a market centre, has spurred the illegal trade.

The Ugandans at the border rely on Kenya for fuel, fertiliser and maize seeds while Kenyans purchase bananas, sugar and electricity.

Trans Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba said plans are underway to put up a market, a centre that will be a source of revenue for the county.

“We are committed to have 100 acres of forest land at the Suam border degazetted so that we can put up a trading centre at the boundary to spur trade with Uganda,” said Mr Khaemba.

Ugandans have welcomed the initiative, saying it will save them from many challenges.

They noted that setting up a market centre at the border on the Kenyan side will lessen the burden of having to travel to Kitale town to purchase commodities.

“We face a lot of challenges when we source for commodities from the Kenyan side due to the poor road in addition to police harassment where we are forced to bribe at several points to get through,” said Dick Wanjala, chairman of Suam market in Uganda.

The illegal trade across the border has led to many deaths as some traders are shot by the police while other drown in Suam River while crossing.

“We lose an average of 20 people every year who try to evade the officials as they cross to the Kenyan side by passing though the Suam River with non-customed goods,” said Mr Wanjala.

Mr Khaemba says his government will renovate the Kitale-Suam road to ease connectivity between the county and Uganda which is impassable during rainy seasons.

“This highway has been earmarked for tarmacking by the national government, but we are set to give it a face-lift for it to be passable during the rainy season,” he said.

He said the African Development Bank has promised to tarmac the road from Endebess in Kenya up to Kapchorwa in Eastern Uganda.

Mr Khaemba said the county is set to benefit from the cross border trade as investors from the United Kingdom and Korea are planning to establish a maize miller in the region.

“Opening up of this market will be of great benefit to maize farmers in this county because we are in the process of teaching them value addition,’’ said Mr Khaemba.

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