By Billy Rwothungeyo
Despite authorities from Uganda and Kenya recently striking a deal to allow sugar exports from the former into the latter, some trucks are still blocked from entering East Africa’s biggest economy.
The chairman of the Uganda Sugar Manufacturers Association (USMA), Jim Kabeho, said some trucks are being allowed into Kenya while others are not.
“We have started sugar exports, although we still have a few problems,” he said on the sidelines on the sidelines of the commissioning the Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) Reporting System.
By mid-this week, a truck was still hold up at the border Uganda-Kenya border since last week.
Asked why Kenyan authorities are still blocking some of the Ugandan sugar into their market, Kabeho bluntly said: “Non-Tariff Barrier. They give you one reason on a particular day, then they tell you to come back the following day. When you do, they give you another reason”.
Kabeho, who is also the director of the East African Business Council Uganda, was visibly upset by the blocking of entry of Ugandan exports.
He accused Uganda’s neighbours of protectionist tendencies.
“And it is not sugar alone! Every product that we have a comparative advantage over Kenya has challenges accessing their markets.
“For us, we do not mind – everything from there [Kenya] comes into our market. Uchumi and Nakumatt [supermarkets] trucks cross the border into Uganda every week,” he vented.
The Kenya-Uganda sugar woes started in 2011 when Uganda was experiencing unprecedented sugar shortages. In a sign of solidarity, Kenya scrapped off duty from sugar bound for the Ugandan market.
But later on, the Kenyans accused Uganda of taking advantage of the situation and ‘over-importing’ – from which imported sugar was reportedly being repackaged and exported back to Kenya duty free under the auspices of the EAC Common Market protocol.
Uganda has since recovered from the 2011 mess, with sugar production now up to an annual tonnage of 462,500, way clear of the domestic tonnage consumption of 300,000.