Kenyans block border over maize ban

Mamos Media

Trucks line up at the Busia border after Kenyans protested maize ban. PHOTO/DAVID AWORI

By David Awori

Traders and clearing agents in Busia Township, Kenya, on Tuesday blocked the border for several hours as they protested the continued ban on the importation of maize from Uganda.

The closure caused a long queue of trucks on either side of the border, with drivers spending hours waiting to cross into their respective destination countries.
Kenya early this month banned the importation of maize from Uganda and Tanzania on grounds that it contained aflatoxins and the continued importation and consumption was putting the lives of their nationals at risk of cancer and other illness.

Mr Elijah Okendo, one of the traders, said many traders had tonnes of their cereal blocked on the Ugandan side.
“We have been engaging our government to allow us ferry the stock of maize which we had bought, but close to three weeks, the ban is yet to be lifted,” Mr Okendo said, adding that he and several of his colleagues risked huge losses because they have invested huge amounts of money in the business, most of which was borrowed from banks.

In addition to the traders’ woes, clearing agents are accusing the Kenyan police of arresting their clients and subjecting them to huge fines.
Mr Dickson Odhiambo, one of the clearing agents at the border, said Kenyan police officials have impounded goods cleared at the border and in the process, arrested clearing agents and imposed hefty fines before securing their release.

Mr John Michael Amodoi, one of the clearing agents on the Ugandan side, said since Tuesday morning, they are yet to receive papers ordering for transactions on imports and exports to Kenya because of the strike.
“The Kenyan clearing agents have refused to hand over transaction papers to us, causing a stalemate in the clearing process,”  Mr Amodoi said.
By Tuesday afternoon, the Kenyan authorities had held two crisis meetings at the immigration boardroom at the border and another was to be held at the county commissioner’s office to convince the striking traders and clearing agents to end the impasse.

Mr Joseph Kipngeno, the head of the border police, together with officials from Kenya Revenue Authority, met the traders and clearing agents, and urged them to call off the strike, promising to sort out their grievances.

Credit to Daily Monitor.

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