Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The government has formed a task force involving four ministries - East African Cooperation, Tourism and Natural Resources, Transport and Industries and Trade to probe the factors behind Kenya’s move to bar Tanzania-registered vehicles from entering Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyata International Airport (JKIA).
 
Speaking to The Guardian yesterday, minister for the East African Cooperation, Samuel Sitta said on Monday this week that his ministry convened an emergency meeting involving experts to strategies on how to solve the problem.
 
Sitta said the government has formally sent a letter to the Chairman of the Non-tariff Barrier Committee in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) to officially report the matter and keep it on records. 
 
“We have heard that Kenyans want to enjoy the East African common market protocol which grants member states free movement of people, labour and goods… but last year we made our position very clear that foreign vehicles carrying tourists are not allowed to enter our country’s national parks,” he said. 
 
Sitta further insisted that there are no reports that Tanzanian officials have been harassing Kenyans nor preventing their vehicles from entering the country’s airports. 
 
“I don’t understand the motive behind this matter… I don’t know what Kenyans have in mind about our country. We are going to pursue this matter until we come up with the source of all these problems,” said the minister.
 
He said Tanzanians shouldn’t be worried because solution to the problem will be found very soon. He called on Tanzanians en route to and from Kenya to be patient as the government works tirelessly to put an end to the inconvenience.
 
Tourism and business stakeholders in northern Tanzania have termed the act as an economic warfare between the two countries
From late December last year, travelers reported to have been frustrated by Kenya’s move to bar Tanzania-registered motor vehicles from entering the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to drop or collect transit passengers to and from this country.
 
The travelers claimed that the order was issued on December 22 last year. The situation is said to have caused fear and uncertainty among tourists traveling to Tanzania via the airport.
 
Last year, tour operators from Kenya alleged that their vans carrying tourists were denied entry to Tanzania at the four main border posts of Namanga, Sirari, Horohoro and Holili something that forced them to hire Tanzanian-registered vehicles and drivers to take the visitors to the selected tourist spots in Tanzania.
 
On August 2014, the Kenyan government through its cabinet secretary for EAC Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, Phyllis Kandie was quoted as saying that Kenya would lodge a formal complaint to the EAC Secretariat against Tanzania whose officials, it accuses of barring tour operators from the neighbouring country from entering its (Tanzania) territory with tourists.

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