Date: 19 January 2017 05:31
Traders doing cross-border business have been urged to observe the set regulations in order for them to work freely without getting into conflict with authorities.
Speaking in Taveta, Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI) programme director Christine Nankubuge said most businesspeople 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
Ms Nankubuge said lack of information often leads to the traders resorting to the use of informal routes where they are sexually harassed and even robbed of their goods.
She was speaking Tuesday at the Green Park Hotel in Taveta Constituency during a women empowerment and training programme.
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 including Kenya, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, among others, and it works with various women groups to train and empower them socially and economically.
Ms Nankubuge said the initiative 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 associations 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 member countries to enlighten women and give information on cross-border trade requirements.
“We have a resource centre in Taveta to serve this area and another in Katuna to serve Rwanda and Uganda. We have registered 5,270 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 will be of great help to them and the country as well.
The more than 200 women were trained on cross-border trade procedures and the requirements needed before crossing borders with their goods.
During the training, the traders said trade barriers between Kenya and Tanzania still exist, which they described as a threat to their business.
HARASSMENT BY TANZANIA AUTHORITIES
The Kenyan traders complained of inequality, mistreatment and harassment by the Tanzanian authorities, which makes them to resort to informal routes 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 routes 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 and 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 Taita Taveta governor’s wife, 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 so as to help in poverty eradication.