The governments of Uganda and Kenya have reached an agreement to expedite the establishment of two new entry points in a bid to alleviate congestion at Busia customs and facilitate smoother trade. The First Deputy Prime Minister and East African Community Affairs Minister, Rebecca Kagada, along with her Kenyan counterpart, Peninah Malonza, the Cabinet Secretary for EAC and Regional Development, jointly announced the decision.
The new border posts will be strategically located, with one at Buteba, eight kilometers from Busia customs, and the other at Murwanda, eighteen kilometers away. To ensure the prompt implementation of this initiative, both ministers signed and exchanged necessary documents, directing technical teams led by Edith Mwanje and Abdi Dubat Fidhow, the Permanent Secretary of EAC Ministry in Uganda, and Kenya’s EAC Principal Secretary, respectively.
During a visit on November 9, the delegations toured the Uganda and Kenya one-stop border posts at Busia, engaging with stakeholders, government agencies, and the cross-border business community to assess the benefits of such facilities for both nations. The ministers actively sought input on challenges faced by border residents concerning local policies in Uganda, Kenya, and the East African Community (EAC).
Addressing concerns raised by the Busia district chairperson, Stephen Mugeni Wasike, about the need to decongest Busia customs, Malonza and Kagada confirmed the gazetting of Murwanda and pledged to expedite the process. Malonza stated, “Uganda has agreed that they’re going to fast track and gazette because on our side Kenya has already gazetted, and therefore, we’re going to fast track the Luanda and Buteba, those two border points.”
Silivanus Mbogo Abungu, Chairperson of the Kenya Chamber of Commerce, expressed the business community’s concerns regarding persistent challenges, such as long queues of trailers along the Kisumu-Busia-Kampala road. Abungu highlighted the potential support from the European Union for road upgrades and emphasized the importance of the standard gauge railway (SGR) in enhancing trade within the EAC.
Cross-border traders, represented by Charles Achieng, commended the delegations for recognizing the significance of a simplified trade regime for regional integration and economic development. Achieng emphasized the need to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers for consignments to move freely.
Key issues discussed included the auctioning of Ugandan goods in Mombasa, property seizures near the sea, and cooperation on EAC matters. Resolutions included a commitment to addressing local issues, harmonizing policies on Lake Victoria’s waters, and planning joint infrastructure projects for faster trade transactions.
Both Kagada and Malonza affirmed that issues discussed would be escalated to the Council of Ministers of the East African Community for swift resolution. Kagada highlighted the importance of addressing challenges such as the speedy clearing of cargo, emphasizing their impact on the customs union and common market protocol.
Arthur Odera, the Busia County deputy governor, stressed the need to protect local communities that facilitate business, focusing on managing disease, security, and related matters at the border.