KIGALI - Michael Waweru, the Chairman of the Northern Corridor and Commissioner for the Kenya Revenue Authority, has decried the rampant corruption along the Northern Corridor.
He made the remarks yesterday while speaking at the Northern Corridor Stakeholders Consultative Forum that brought together participants from the transport corridor linking the Great Lakes countries of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda to the Kenyan sea port of Mombasa, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
The forum aimed at evaluating how far member countries have gone in overcoming bottlenecks to facilitate trade along the corridor and lay strategies of what is needed to ensure efficient trade facilitation.
“Traders complain that government agencies operating along the corridor ask them for bribes and when we are ask the traders to help us and eradicate the vice within the corridor they are not co-operative,” Waweru said.
He added that when they take measures to remove interaction between the traders and the various government agencies operating along the corridor, for example by using electronic cargo transport system which eliminates the transit monitoring unit, traders say that it is expensive for them.
“The cost of corruption is lot more to the economy and to individual traders and when we ask the traders to pay 1,000 dollars to install electronic cargo tracking gadget, they don’t want and prefer to bribe the police and customs officers,” Waweru explained
He called upon stakeholders along the corridor to do their best to bring corruption to an end.
According to Eugene Torero, the Deputy Commissioner General and Commissioner for Customs at RRA, a lot has been done to promote the efficient trade facilitation along the corridor, including the introduction of one stop border post.
“Key initiatives for instance the 24 hour operation along borders like Gatuna, Gisenyi- Congo border, Maraba border and Mombasa port, have had significant impact on reducing clearance time,” he noted.
Officiating at the meeting, Marie Clare Mukasine the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure said that transit facilitation which includes simplification and harmonisation of customs procedures and removal of non-tariff barriers needs to be emphasised.
She pointed out the numerous non-tariff barriers along the Northern Corridor including weigh bridges, roadblocks, insecurity, differing axle road limits and cash bonds.
“It is our responsibility to work jointly towards addressing challenges that impede streamlined trade facilitation along the corridor.”
The meeting will address more challenges affecting the corridor and draw sustainable strategies that will promote trade facilitation, free and secure business environment as well as reducing the cost of doing business in the region.
The forum was initiated as a platform for raising issues and difficulties affecting business in a bid to turn the corridor into an efficient economic development channel with various investment opportunities.