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Why Moyale post is trade barrier – Business Daily

Moyale and Ethiopian One-Stop Border Points aerial views from the Kenyan side. PHOTO | COURTESY
At the time of launch two years ago, Moyale One Stop Border Post was touted as the ideal tool for trade facilitation between Kenya and Ethiopia.
Plagued by a myriad of challenges spanning insecurity to a lack of harmonisation of trade laws between the duo, the border post remains largely underutilised.
Residents of Moyale say the facility has instead turned into an impediment to trade. For instance, they no longer buy fuel from Ethiopia where it is cheaper by more than 50 percent.
Cement that used to be sourced from Ethiopia is no longer available and has to be trucked from Nairobi. On landing in Moyale, it retails at Sh900 for a 50-kilogramme bag yet it costs a maximum of Sh500 in Ethiopia.
While a litre of petrol is currently retailing at Sh210, it costs less than Sh120 across the border, five kilometres away.
“The border post is not helping us the way we thought it would because besides high prices of commodities there is no free movement of people and the cultural interactions that used to be there are no longer existent. We cannot even buy foodstuff from Ethiopia,” said Mustafa Hussein, a resident.
The bus fare from Nairobi to Moyale, a distance of 850 kilometres has shot up from Sh3,000 to Sh5,000 and as life becomes unbearable with prices of other basic commodities rising due to fuel costs, some residents are considering relocating to Ethiopia.
The residents say when the movement of people across the border was smooth life was easier because they would buy products from Ethiopia.
“I am a motorcycle and tuktuk mechanic and we used to get affordable spare parts from across the border. Those from Nairobi are very expensive because of the distance. Today, our businesses have collapsed because motorcycle owners cannot afford fuel and spare parts,” said John Chege, a resident who has lived in Moyale for over 10 years.
Kenyans fear crossing to Ethiopia with a customs officer revealing that he had not ventured into the Ethiopian town for the two years he has worked at the station.
“There is security within the post but out there in Ethiopia, anything can happen any time and I wouldn’t wish to risk my life,” said the officer on condition of anonymity.
The post was part of a $329 million (Sh39.4 billion) project that included the construction of a 438-kilometre road from Merille to Moyale and 300 kilometres in Ethiopia with the construction of the facility completed in 2018 and commissioned by former President Uhuru Kenyatta in December 2020.
Ethiopia heavily relies on Kenya for glass and plastic bottles for beer and bottled water while Kenya imports products such as cement, aluminium, lubricants and finished leather products among others.
Customs and Border Control Assistant Manager, Mr Collins Wangala, said there were efforts to facilitate trade between the two countries, noting that they hold regular meetings in the Border Management Committee forum.
Mr Nicholas Kinoti, Kenya Revenue Authority northern region coordinator said since Ethiopia is not a member of the East African Community, there was the need for Comesa to introduce border management procedures.
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