The chairperson of the East African Community (EAC) Summit, President Uhuru Kenyatta, has called on partner states to be vigilant about the remaining trade barriers that impede the free movement of goods, services and labour.
The Kenyan head of state said this while giving the state of EAC address to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on Tuesday in Arusha, Tanzania.
He said though there were some positive achievements in eliminating regional trade barriers, more continue to exist.
“In the previous year, we have significantly reduced police roadblocks along the main EAC transport corridors but other non-tariff barriers still remain,” Kenyatta said.
“Vigilance in the removal of the bureaucratic red tape that chokes our trade and movement of goods, services and people must be the watchword,” he added.
Some of the challenges that truck drivers have always cited include insecurity especially along the central corridor that connects regional countries to Dar Port in Tanzania.
However, the days a truck takes from Mombasa Port in Kenya to Kigali have significantly reduced to about five, down from 22 days previously, after removing some non-tariff barriers.
The President maintained that it was important for the region to fully embrace the EAC Customs Union and the Common Market Protocols. He challenged the Assembly to be steadfast in service delivery.
On the envisaged political federation, which is the fourth stage of integration, he observed that the Community was on course to cement their political unity.
“I must emphasise that political federation is a process, not an event. Our cooperation in economic affairs, good governance, security and education, among others, constitutes the foundation necessary for the federation we desire,” he noted.
In her remarks, EALA Speaker Margret Zziwa Nantongo, said more was needed to realise integration. She urged partner states to urgently revise their domestic laws to conform to the EAC integration protocols.
“We are yet to see real dynamism on the part of the partner states to facilitate the implementation of the protocols but we remain hopeful that they will act,” she said.
“The partner states are indeed at various stages when it comes to amending their laws to conform to the Common Market Protocol. However, we are of the view that the legal processes need to be fast tracked,” Zziwa remarked.
Failure to harmonise the national laws with the regional integration legislation continues to hinder citizen’s full enjoyment of the benefits of the integration process.
During the next two weeks in Arusha, EALA members are expected to discuss various issues, including the EAC integration civil education Bill 2014, receive and consider reports from various committees of the Assembly and consider motions and questions brought before the House.