Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga last week directed Kenya’s Ministry of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security to reduce the number of weighbridges found from Mombasa Port to Busia border post, from 13 to two, by the end of this year.
This is clearly in response to President Paul Kagame’s earlier call on the East African leadership to do what can be done to enhance cooperation and trade between regional states, that does not need any prior capital input.
This is a welcome move which will be celebrated by all East African traders, including Kenyans who move goods to the eastern parts of Kenya.
It directly translates into slightly cheaper goods due to the fact that they will spend less time on the roads and even less at checkpoints; and also lesser troubles and costs that are technically called non-tariff trade barriers – bribery and corruption falling in this not so charitable category.
Both traders and consumers in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo therefore stand to benefit from this simple but hitherto elusive policy.
During the recent RRA celebrations to mark 10 years of service, President Kagame also expressed the wish to see border posts operating 24 hours, so that no single traveller or trader is impeded in their various quests because of closed borders.
This was no sooner said than it was almost immediately put into practise, and even a four-man team was tasked to go the whole breadth and width of the country to see whether the policies – even that of no unnecessary roadblocks that do not facilitate trade - were being implemented.
We see a brighter future for the East African Community, with a leadership that is totally committed to taking it to another level in terms of greater cooperation and economic advancement among its peoples.
Indeed, such non-monetary but very important aspects affecting regional development should be addressed first and the rest will follow.