East African Community
Tanzania scraps vehicle entry fee at borders with Kenya
Faced with massive pressure from other East African Community member states, during a recent ministerial meeting in Mombasa, Tanzania rushed to reassure Kenya and other countries that it would remove the controversial $200 fee, charged for each vehicle entering Tanzania, and abolish the requirement for work permits for East African citizens, entering Tanzania on business.
It now remains to be seen if this was merely another tactic to appease the community partners or if indeed on Monday the directive will go out to stop forthwith the collection of the fees and stop demanding work permits for business people coming from the region.
During the weekend summit in Nairobi it was also decided that Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi would remove all so called ‘road blocks’ where trucks and buses have previously been ‘inspected’ while Kenya committed to reduce such check points along the central transit corridor from a staggering 36 to only 5, with those also under operational review, in order to make free trade and transport across East Africa a faster reality. In this context it is also important to notice that Tanzania dropped another contentious obstacle and joined the partner states to fully recognize the ‘certificate of origin’ each EAC country issues to certify that goods shipped meet the requirements of locally manufactured input criteria to qualify for the zero rated tariffs.
Other sectors however were swift to demand equal treatment, in particular the aviation industry asking to remove the restrictive policies hitherto employed against airlines registered in other EAC member states and wishing to fly into Tanzania, while tourism stakeholders from the wider region expressed their hope that the border issue between the Serengeti and the Masai Mara at Bologonja / Sand River and the restrictions on safari tourists having to change vehicles at the borders with Tanzania, would also be resolved very soon.
Questions to EAC officials about the time frame for a common tourist Visa were not answered over the weekend.