Cars do not often make so much news because they are everywhere. However in the last couple of days, one particular car broke the norm and hit headlines in the region. Around the middle of the week, news came in that a presidential limousine belonging to Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta had been stolen.
It later turned out that the car in question was a BMW that is used as an escort vehicle for the president’s convoy. To be fair, theft or theft of cars to be precise is never really news in a place like Kenya. However this was not your ordinary car but a presidential escort vehicle. I wondered what such a car was doing in Ruai where it was robbed from.
Later on we heard that car was found abandoned in Wandegeya a Kampala suburb although previous reports were that it was found in Tororo which is close to the western Kenyan border. By the time of writing this, the car had been returned to Nairobi and the saga came to a happy ending.
The story of Uhuru’s car points to a common trend of cross border crime in the region. Lots of cars are stolen and sold across borders. In the past cars have ended up in Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan where the thugs take advantage of the weak law enforcement in these countries.
Law breakers like to cross borders in the hope that they have broken the trail of any law enforcers who maybe trying to chase them. But this situation should not be allowed to prevail if indeed we are a community as the East African Community is. Our leaders meet regularly and discuss many things and security is always on the table.
The security of East Africans as people and property is something that concerns our leaders and explains why among other things they have committed themselves to forming a joint force that can be used to intervene in case there is a major security problem in the region. The good thing is that all EAC states have experience in peacekeeping.
General cooperation between the different security organs is needed now more than ever before and not just because of presidential cars being stolen. Rwanda is currently grappling with a problem of human trafficking with young girls being taken across the border to join the sex industry in Uganda
Also a few days back, a woman allegedly trafficking drugs from Burundi was arrested at Kigali International airport. I am one of those people who is against the police practice of parading of suspects but during this process I liked that Rwanda Police officers said they had contacted their Burundian counterparts on this matter.
The tourism industry is also plagued by the menace of poaching particularly targeting ivory from the elephant tusks and the rhino horn. Akagera National Park has been dealing with those who illegally cut down the East African Sandalwood tree and poachers who kill hippopotami and sell the meat across the border in Tanzania.
Speaking of Tanzania we also know that albinos are hunted for their body parts with many selling them across the borders to people who practice witchcraft. Such crimes cannot be curbed by one security organisation but through cooperation between different organs.
During a visit to Kenya a few years back, President Museveni made the audience laugh when he said that the people of West Pokot were stealing his cows and that they should return them. Much as it came off as a light hearted remark, the problem of cross border cattle rustling is not new at all. It has sometimes escalated into civil conflicts. Smuggling good across border to evade tax is another issue you could add to the list of cross border security concerns.
Whatever the case, once the perpetrators of a crime or whatever is stolen/ trafficked crosses a border, the security organ on the other side should do it’s best to stop them in their tracks. Law breakers should not be allowed to think that once they cross a border then the chase is over.
The East African Community remains a bloc known to offer relative ease for citizens from member states to cross respective borders with so much ease. This however should not used by the law breakers to export or import crime. I am sure the Kenyans are grateful that the Ugandan security found Uhuru’s car and returned it.