WHILE reports suggest that over 1 million Kenyans face acute shortage of food, the puzzle of maize export to the East Africa Community (EAC) member remains unresolved, with the fate of consignment at borders still unknown.
With loads weighing 216 tonnes from Tanzania at Holili Border and some 40 tonnes at Namanga Border that have been denied entry into Kenya, authorities of the neighbouring country have issued further conditions with drivers and their assistants remaining stranded there.
That follows a decision by the Kenya Government, through an internal letter from Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority to the commissioner of customs at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) stopping imports of maize into Kenya from Tanzania and Uganda with immediate effect.
Conditions that exporters of maize, and now rice and all grain should meet include having documents from Tanzania Bureau of Standard (TBS) and Tanzania Food Authority, certifying fair levels of mycotoxins that are allowed making grains good for human consumption.
Question that remains lingering is what happens with consignments already on Kenyan side of the border. Longido District Commissioner, Mr Frank Mwaisumbe confided with the ‘Daily News’ yesterday that they were making a close follow up on the matter.
“The Ministry of Agriculture and KRA of Kenya have decided that those taking maize to Kenya must have those certificates, but now we remain unanswered on what to do with grains that have been cleared by Tanzania Revenue Authority.
They (Kenyan authorities) promised to give directives on that today,” said Mr Mwaisumbe.
Stranded as they have been since March 5, the drivers said they were waiting for answers from Kenyan authorities after samples of maize were taken for testing by the country’s authorities that claim that over the years, acute and chronic aflatoxin-related illness cases have been recorded, with some resulting in deaths.
“The loads weigh 216 tonnes; they come from Tanzanian farmers and were meant to be exported to Kenya in normal business routines between our two countries. Now they are stranded here, waiting for procedures in taking the samples, transporting them for testing and bringing back results and decisions. We have 15 trucks so far here.
Tanzanians drivers say Kenyan claims on high levels of mycotoxins are unfounded.
“We have been doing the business for many years, collaborating well with our counterparts in grain business without any problem. We are perplexed to hear today that maize from our country have high levels of aflatoxins. It is not true, there is an ill will,” said Mr Bakari Khamis, a trader.
Another trader, Mr Ramadhani Bakari said as Kenya refuses maize to be transported to different parts of Kenya, some businesspersons are making losses as too much time is spent on the border.
Under Article 13 of the Customs Union Protocol, the EAC partner states have agreed to remove all existing non-tariff barriers to trade and not to impose any new ones. Under Article 81 of the Treaty establishing the EAC, the partner states recognised the importance of standardisation, quality assurance, metrology and testing for the promotion of trade and investment and consumer protection among other things