Traders accuse Tanzanian border officials of harassment

Traders at the Kenya- Tanzania border at Namanga. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Traders at the Kenya- Tanzania border at Namanga. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Local traders have protested alleged harassment by Tanzania government officials, adding to increasing complaints against the country’s customs and security officials. 

The business groups raised their concerns with Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice-chairman James Mureu during a business forum.

The traders, led by Samuel Rumo, decried frequent harassment and the arrest of Kenyan traders across the Kenya-Tanzania border at Sirare.

“We are calling on the government to liaise with Tanzanian government to expeditiously address our plight. Traders from Kenya are being frustrated by Tanzanian security officials yet their people are doing business in our country without any problem,” said Mr Rumo.

“We are planning to hold a big demonstration at the border if the Government will not handle this problem amicably,” he added.

Cross-Border Traders (CBT) chairman at Isebania border Peter Highway said they had complained to Kenyan customs officials but no action had been taken.

The traders say they are often frustrated by Tanzanian officials when they are clearing their goods at their customs office and that police in that country demand bribes to allow them to freely carry out their businesses.

“The Tanzanian customs officials continue to harass and intimidate Kenyan traders. We wonder why this is happening yet the two governments keep talking of East African co-operation,” said John Chacha Marwa, who has been doing business at the border for the past eight years.

“Clearance of goods on the Tanzanian side still takes hours because of formalities and bureaucracies. The custom officials always take their time so that they can be bribed to expedite the process.”

They said long queues of tracks carrying goods are still a common sight at the Tanzanian side, with drivers complaining of long hours at the border.

The traders said the delays should have ended when the governments opened a One Stop Border Post to expedite entry and exit formalities besides speeding up the movement of goods, persons and services by putting border agencies from both countries under a common roof.

Besides their woes at the Isibania/Sirare border post, the Kenyan traders say most of them are arbitrarily arrested and detained in Tanzania on tramped up charges in a bid to curtail their business in the country.

“Most of the Kenyan traders have been arrested in  Tanzania without legitimate reasons. Some have been labelled criminals and deported to Kenya but all this is done in a bid to curtail businesses for the Kenyans and give Tanzanians an upper hand,” said a trader, Chacha Kehaga.