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Govt reveals plan to decongest Namanga border post

Caption: EAC principle secretary Kevit Desai (in red necktie) with Kajiado County Surveyor  Joshua Lemaikai  in Namanga town where they identified a 500-acre land for the construction of a modern market. PHOTO | Albert Lemomo | JAPG

The Chairman of Cross Border Traders Association Keria ole Mantina says the move will not only safe traders from frequent harassment by county askaris, but will also shield, among others, pregnant mothers from the scorching sun as they go about their daily hustle

By Albert Lemomo

East Africa Community (EAC) Principle Secretary Kevit Desai has announced a government’s grand plan to relocate small scale traders congesting the Namanga One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) to a 500-acre modern market in the town.

At a meeting with Governor Joseph ole Lenku at the governor’s residence in Kajiado town, the PS said, the move is aimed at improving operations at OSBP, which attends to more than 1,300 truck drivers and other passengers daily.

“In a recent meeting among Heads of State of the EAC, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed that we improve service delivery around our border areas to ensure movement of goods continues to flow without much interruption as the transportation of cargo is critical to the sustainability of our economy.

“Therefore we have dimmed it wise to look for an alternative land where we will build a modern market for our small scale traders especially those that depend on the border traffic travels,” said Desai.

He also indicated that value addition structures will be installed at the market to ensure that traders earn the topmost profits to grow their businesses, without necessarily occupying the space allocated for trucks awaiting clearance at the border.

Governor Lenku welcomed the move terming it a major lift, particularly for small and medium enterprises owned by youth and women, whom he says, will not have to carry their stocks all the time, as they will then have stalls to keep their merchandise.

Besides, the governor said, the trade will be organized and traders will be able to earn a decent living due to the seamless flow of activities.

He added: “In the last few years, we have seen a high increase of business activities at the border especially after the completion of the OSBP whereby women from interior parts of Kajiado normally make their way to this shop and sell their beadworks among other items to tourists that pass through the border.”

Furthermore, the PS reiterated the government’s position on cross border trade amid Covid-19 concerns, saying that trade is key for the survival of the country’s economy.

“Movement of goods is critical for the economic sustainability of any nation, and we are not different, therefore as a ministry, we have engaged friendly development partners and have requested for extra personal protective gears, for our staffs as they continue to discharge their mandate to protect them from contracting Covid-19.

“We will prioritize on our staff at the border, especially going by the growing concerns that the town is becoming a pandemic hotspot,” he said.

The town has so far recorded 12 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with nine of them being truck drivers who required clearance from immigration officials to proceed with their journey.

The Chairman of Cross Border Traders Association Keria ole Mantina also lauded the move, terming a “noble cause” that will not only safe traders from frequent harassment by county askaris, but will also shield, among others, pregnant mothers from the scorching sun as they go about their daily hustle.

Namanga OSBP was launched on 1st December 2018 by both Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Tanzanian President John Magufuli.

The duo had expressed optimism to the small scale traders that the border post will increase support to do business across the border unhindered.

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