Kenyan traders block Tanzania goods in Namanga border standoff
Business and transport was paralysed at the Namanga border on Tuesday as Kenyans protested mistreatment by Tanzanian authorities after several milk traders were arrested and placed in custody last Saturday.
Traders on both sides of the border incurred big losses at the key entry and exit point for goods as heavy police presence did little to return normalcy.
The busy Namanga road was barricaded at Ilbisil and Namanga towns, blocking hundreds lorries ferrying goods from Tanzania to Nairobi.
About 100 trailers ferry goods into Kenya daily, underlining long-running trade disputes between the two countries that has seen Tanzania recently restrict entry of Kenya-made goods to its market like confectionery, juice and ice cream.
They claimed five milk traders from Ilbisil and a van driver were being detained by Tanzanian authorities for crossing the border using temporary permits.
“We are the target of the Tanzania police officers and we cannot operate our businesses at ease,” said John Meleu.
“We are arrested and arraigned on frivolous allegations and end up been fined heavily. Tanzanian traders operate on Kenyan side freely. We would like the Kenyan government to intervene and help us.’’
Most of the lorries blocked were ferrying farm produce and timber worth millions of shillings to Kenya. Their tyres were deflated.
“We were supposed to have delivered our products to Nairobi’s Wakulima Market by 6:30am but were blocked. We fear we will incur big losses as some of our products were meant for a local supermarket’s morning supply,’’ said Mr Juma Saidi, a Tanzania trader who supplies tomatoes and onions to Kenyan supermarkets.
Tourists were also affected as their vehicles were delayed for hours.
Kajiado County commissioner David Kipkemei urge traders to be patient as the standoff is being addressed.