- Several trucks from Tanzania, which had been stranded at the border with maize, are reported to have been cleared to Nairobi
Arusha. Exports of maize to Kenya through the Namanga border post has resumed but the usual large volumes are not there yet.
Traders of the commodity at the border town said in principle the recent stand-off by the two countries over the maize trade is over.
Several trucks from Tanzania, which had been stranded at the border with maize, are reported to have been cleared to Nairobi.
A spot check by The Citizen at the busy border crossing yesterday found no lorry with maize awaiting clearance.
Instead the extensive parking yards on both sides of the border had trucks loaded with other exports to Kenya, notable among them timber.
Daniel Wainaina, chairman of Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa), confirmed there were no stranded maize there.
The body has been critical of a measure taken by Kenya on March 5 to ban maize imports from Tanzania and Uganda for alleged Aflatoxin contamination.
Stakeholders who spoke yesterday during a meeting convened by the East African Community (EAC) said all vehicles with maize from Tanzania had been allowed to proceed.
After the early March ban, at least 18 trucks returned to Arusha with the cargo immediately and eleven remained at the border post.
President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted the ban on maize imports from Tanzania after his meeting with President Samia Suluhu Hassan in Nairobi last week.
However, industry sources said the large volumes which used to be seen at the border crossing could be expected from next week.
Other sources said challenges could still be expected because the commodity has to be subjected to tests to ensure they were free of the toxic fungus.
Kenyan importers said despite the political good will by the two countries over the issue, the maize from Tanzania has to be inspected.
Mr Wainaina said under the cross border trade rules, an exporting country has to do laboratory tests on the commodity it exported and not the importer.
“This is not the responsibility of the importing country and in this case Kenya”, he said at a meeting also attended by the EAC secretary general Peter Mathuki.
He added, however , that Tanzania does not have laboratory facilities for testing maize at Namanga and that such facility was in Dar es Salaam.
This, the Kifwa official feared, added to the cost of doing business due to the long wait for the results while the cargo is stranded at the border.
Mr Wainaina also criticized a measure imposed by the Kenyan authorities for maize importers to be registered, saying the registration fees were too high.
Julius Mollel, a maize trader in Arusha said huge stocks of the commodity could be on the way to Kenya from next week.
However, he said he was not sure if the Aflatoxin tests by the Kenya Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) which was behind the ban would remain.
Huge stocks of maize could be found at Mbauda, Majengo and Kwa Mrombo markets in Arusha with its owners optimistic about the Kenyan market.
A Kenyan customs official, Joseph Muywaywa, said last week that they were awaiting a circular from AFA authorizing them on how to clear the maize cargo.
“Once a trader presents a certificate, we will clear them right away. We now expect businesses to begin importing maize from Tanzania”, he said.
Kenya has been a leading market for maize and other agricultural produce from Tanzania , especially the northern regions.