Date: 19 January 2017 03:26
Kenyan traders have been asked to observe cross-border trade regulations to avoid harassment.
Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI) programme director Christine Nankubuge said in Taveta it was important for the traders to observe trade guidelines to enable them trade freely without disturbance by the authorities at the border point.
She said most traders lack information on trade guidelines and that there is need to empower them so that they can know their rights.
“The traders lack information on tax and immigration procedures, and taxation of goods commonly traded across Taveta/ Holili border such as vitenge and agricultural produce,” She said
Speaking at the Green Park Hotel in Taveta during women empowerment and training programme, Ms Nankubuge said lack of information often lead to the traders resorting to the use of informal routs where they are sexually harassed and even robbed of their goods.
The training was conducted by the EASSI, which was established in 1996 after the Beijing Conference held in China.
The initiative is operational in eight countries namely Kenya, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda among others and it works with various women groups and the media to train and empower women socially and economically.
She said the initiative has its main focal point which advocates for social and economic empowerment of women so that they can participate in regional integration.
“We work with private and public sectors and we focus on informal women cross-border traders, we encourage them to form association of women traders so that they can have a collective voice to engage with the government for any support,” she said
She said EASSI has established resource centres in the member countries to enlighten women and give information on the cross-border trade requirements.
“We have a resource center in Taveta to serve this area and another in Katuna to serve Rwanda and Uganda,we have registered 5270 women for training and we are looking forward to register more,” She said
She said that informal traders are making huge contributions to the growth of the economy and bringing them together for training would be of great help to them and the country as well.
“We want to see women in leadership, we are now advocating for East African Gender Bill which is an instrument we can used to hold government accountable,” she said
The more than 200 women were trained on cross-border trade procedures and the requirements before crossing border with their goods.
During the training, the traders said there were trade barriers between Kenya and Tanzania border at Taveta which they described as a threat to their business.
The Kenyan traders complained of inequality, mistreatment and harassment by the Tanzanian authorities making them to resort to informal routs to transport their goods.
But Tanzania Revenue Authority official Emmanuel Kaberya said most traders do not follow the laid down cross-border trade procedures hence they are forced to use informal routs which land them into problems.
“There are no barriers at all, the main problem is that traders lack information on the tax procedures, simplified trade regulations and key issues to note on importing or exporting agricultural products and other goods,” he said.
Mr Kaberya said the traders ought to understand the rules of origin of their goods, list of qualifying goods as of 2016, prohibited and restricted goods in order to carry out their business undisturbed.
The two day training, which was funded by East African Trade Mark, ended on Tuesday and was presided over by the County’s First Lady Hope Mruttu, who promised to engage with the relevant authorities to address the grievances raised by the traders.
She encouraged women traders to concentrate on their businesses to help in poverty eradication.
“We understand challenges exist but I can assure you the county leadership is working on a long lasting solution to address the problem,” she added.
Earlier, Taveta Deputy County Commissioner Henry Wafula said issues of trade barriers had been solved and that the Kenyan traders are supposed to get permit from Tanzanian officials before transacting any business
He said the neighbouring country was putting restrictions due to the impending draught, which is feared is likely to result in shortage of farm produce.
“We have been holding inter-border meetings and there are no harassment, business is good and there is perfect relations between our traders and the Tanzanian authorities,” he said.