Regional business lobby urges EAC states to reopen borders
Oct. 29, 2020
Business has been poor since the borders across the region were closed in the wake of Covid-19. Kenya and other EAC states began closing borders for both land, air and water travellers when the first cases of the coronavirus were reported in the region in March.
BORDER TRADE: Peter Mathuki when he visited Malaba on October 13, 2020. Image: EMOJONG OSERE
The East African Business Council has urged the EAC member states to lift border restrictions to allow full resumption of trade. The regional lobby of private sector associations and corporates in East Africa said on Thursday that the reopening would enable cross-border business activity to rebound and subsequently support investment. EABC executive director Peter Mathuki told the Star that business has been poor since the borders across the region were closed in the wake of Covid-19. “We are asking the governments to lessen the restrictions on the movement of persons in all the border points of EAC states because they [people] are the ones who facilitate the movement of goods,” Mathuki said on the phone. “All the One-Stop Border Posts should be functional, and they should be supported so that the facilities can be used to smoothen the cross-border movement.” Mathuki spoke hours after President Uhuru Kenyatta convened an extraordinary session of the National and County Governments Coordinating Summit to discuss the rising Covid-19 cases. The summit is set for November 4. Kenya and other EAC states began closing borders for both land, air and water travellers when the first cases of the coronavirus were reported in the region in March. The closures meant any cross-border activity, apart from long-distance trucks ferrying goods across the region, had to be shut. Mathuki, however, said EAC governments should remain vigilant and ensure that people moving across borders strictly follow Covid-19 regulations to limit the spread of the virus. He said security teams manning borders should remain alert to ensure illegal movement across the border is stopped. “This can be resolved by putting mechanisms that are not curtailing the movement of persons,” Mathuki said. He also said there has been a drastic decline in the number of cargo trucks being cleared at the Kenyan borders because of Covid-19. Mathuki said governments across the EAC region should adopt a model where truckers are tested for the coronavirus before they reach border points to prevent congestion being witnessed in Malaba. There have been concerns from the business community that continued closure of borders will hurt businesses across the region, particularly those that are heavily reliant on regional countries as their primary market. Edited by A.N
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