Residents and traders conducting businesses across the Tanzanian-Kenyan border of Sirari are crossing over to the neighbouring state without necessarily carrying any travel document.
By Ambrose Wantaigwa in Tarime
RESIDENTS and traders conducting businesses across the Tanzanian-Kenyan border of Sirari are smoothly crossing over to the neighbouring state without necessarily carrying any travel document following announcement by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta that all East African nationals travelling across do not need such documents.
During his inaugural speech late last year, the Kenyan leader announced the landmark cancellation of visa and other travel documents which formerly required all Community citizens crossing over for business, work or holidays to carry formal travel documents.
“As a mark of our continued commitment to you, our Brothers and Sisters in the East African Community; from to-day, you will be treated like Kenyans. Like your Kenyan brothers and sisters, you will need only your identity card.
You can now work, do business; own property, farm and if you wish, and find a willing partner, you can marry and settle in Kenya,” said Kenyatta. Before the announcement the residents from both parts of the EA states enjoyed brotherly relationships in that in the two districts of Tarime and Rorya that stretches through the Lake Victoria speak the same dialects with their Kenyan counterparts.
Things such as access to medical, markets or simple shopping needed no travel documents within a 2-km radius on either sides. Hundreds of pupils from Tanzania cross the busy border on a daily basis to attend classes in the neighbouring country in mainly private schools where a good number of candidates pass through higher studies and now some parents say they are relieved they won’t consume much time to make travelling documentation.
Speaking at a prayer function that was also attended by Tanzanian parents at Esebania Ward, within Kenya recently, the Director at Momokoro academy that enrolls tens of pupils from Tanzania, Mr Werema Range said the registration was done every year without any conditions attached to residency – “as long as they are accompanied by legitimate parents or guardians.”
He explained that apart from attending lessons in class the students especially those completing in standard eight were equipped with handcraft training as well as sports and other extra curriculum including the Social effects of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)and early childhood marriages.
One of the Tanzanian residents conversant with regular travel procedures at the border told The ‘Daily News’ of the removal of travel conditions that were implemented at ‘road-block’ where none now exist.
However, the offer by the Kenyan leader to fellow East Africans has been greeted with ‘cautious optimism’ as local leaders here say “it should not be taken for granted” because some criminal elements might “use that for ill motives.”
During a visit to the Sirari Township by Deputy Home Affairs Minister Hamad Masauni, the Tarime/Rorya special police zone commander Henry Mwaibambe warned motorcycle riders to refrain from being used to smuggle “illegal property and people through unofficial routes.”
The RPC was concerned that the free movement of people and goods between both states should follow regular immigration and customs procedures because criminals do not have racial or nationality signs and urged wananchi to collude any information concerning the vice to the law enforcers.