Local importers and exporters within the regional states have said that for the East African Community (EAC) to achieve its main goal of expanding its economic growth, there was need to enhance security.
Business experts say that one of the factors that impede regional economic growth is insecurity prevalent among some member countries, saying it had not only negatively impacted on transporters, but also on member countries.
Some of the countries hard-hit by insecurity include Tanzania mainly at Kahama Forest along the Rusumo-Dar es Salaam highway, and some parts of rural Burundi.
The Executive Secretary of the truck-drivers’ association, Theodore Murenzi, noted that insecurity had over time restricted them from transporting their goods in time, saying that unless regional mechanisms are adopted to avert the trend, the regional economy would be derailed.
“Where there is insecurity, you’re not free to move; you can’t work 24 hours, you can’t settle and plan effectively. For example, in some parts of Tanzania, you’re forced to sleep at 6 pm fearing that your goods might be stolen on the way,” he lamented.
He mentioned that as traders, they have recommended that partner states initiate highway patrols to monitor and ensure security, especially on the major roads linking countries to ports.
A local trader, Theobard Barakagira, who imports cars from Tanzania, noted that years back, he was shot at by unknown robbers in Tanzania, noting that it had greatly affected his business.
“I was going to import cars as my usual work from the Dar-es-Salaam port when unknown robbers shot at our car and I was seriously injured in the leg,” he recollected, adding that the incident led for him to opt to spend more days on the road.
Another businessman, Celestin Makuza, underlined that the regional economy was doomed if insecurity prevails, saying other countries should emulate Rwanda in maintaining security.
Meanwhile, a joint meeting of the EAC Sectoral Council on cooperation in defence, Inter-state Security and Foreign Policy Coordination, convened yesterday in Arusha to consider the final draft of the EAC Protocol on Peace and Security.
Chapter 23 of the EAC Treaty elaborates measures that partner states are obliged to observe in the areas of defence, among others, to ensure the right environment for stability and development.
According to the EAC Deputy Secretary General (Political Federation), Beatrice Kiraso, the draft protocol was adopted by the EAC Council of Ministers and referred to the joint meeting of the three sectoral councils for conclusion of policy guidelines on counter terrorism, piracy as well as detention, custody and rehabilitation of offenders.
“Securing and stabilising our region is high on the EAC agenda, as all other integration efforts will not bear fruits without peace and stability,” Kiraso notes in a statement.
The meeting will also consider the draft EAC Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (CPMR) Framework.
It is also expected to adopt the Eastern and Southern Africa/Indian Ocean Maritime Security Strategy and Action Plan, which has been designed to help combat piracy in the Indian Ocean.