Busia one-stop border post renders hundreds jobless

There was hope for better trade when President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni, opened the Sh1.3 billion Busia One Stop Border Post in February this year. What was meant to streamline processes by marking the end of a manual system has come with pain. As much as the government appears to have sealed leakages through which tax used to leak to corrupt revenue collectors, individuals who worked in the clearing and forwarding sector are crying over job losses.
Uganda to widen relief fraud probe to U.N. staff vows reforms Initially, the border was a hive of activity as clearing and forwarding agents moved up and down pursuing clearance of trucks with cargo crossing to Uganda. Clearing agents at Busia and Malaba customs say the introduction of the post has taken away their jobs. Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association Busia Chapter Chairman Joseph Ouma paints a gloomy picture of a people deprived of livelihood. An agent can go for two weeks without getting a job because the truck driver comes furnished with an Exit Note and he can do the remaining work himself, says Ouma. Everything is now done electronically and only KRA officers can access the system. Text the word ‘NEWS’ to 22840 Initially, agents would be assisted to fill forms from the Immigration office before gaining entry. Once they disembark, they go straight to the Immigration officer who keys in their details in the system; this takes a very short time and they are allowed to proceed to Kenya, says Ouma.
There are more than 1,000 clearing and forwarding companies at the Busia and Malaba borders and according to the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association Busia chapter chairman, some have closed. Moses Okendo, of Johen, says the introduction of the one-stop border point has denied him an income. This is the only place we could get money to take care of our families, but there is nothing we do at the border nowadays. Dominic Mburu, also a clearing agent, says there is no balance of trade between Kenya and Uganda. Our colleagues in Uganda are reaping big from the two borders, says Chief of Staff Robert Papa.