Arusha. Frustrated Kenyan maize traders are once again bitter over the ban on imports of basic commodities from Tanzania.
They want their country’s regulatory authorities to review the restriction in order to avoid them huge losses.
“Put an end to these harsh measures,” said David Wainaina, president of the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa).
He said at the Namanga border post on Wednesday that Kenyan and Tanzanian authorities should meet and resolve the issue.
“If Tanzania’s maize has always been clean, where does the aflatoxin come from?” He asked at a crisis meeting convened by the East African Business Council (EABC).
Kenya banned imports of maize from Tanzania and Uganda on March 5 this year due to reported mycotoxin contamination.
The order was placed by the Kenya Food and Agriculture Authority (AFA) which said aflatoxin levels were higher beyond safe thresholds.
Mr Wainaina noted that the conditions imposed on them were “harsher” on importers who had already purchased the grain from Tanzania.
Kifwa vice president Alex Seita said maize importers using the Namanga border post face $ 200 per day for the stranded cargo.
“The government is not doing much to help us,” he said, noting that some traders had taken out bank loans to import the grain.
During a visit to the border on Wednesday, The Citizen found an unknown number of trucks loaded with grain stranded in the area.
According to Mr. Seita, 18 of the trucks with maize had returned to Arusha while the trucks with maize already purchased were still stuck.
Responding to the complaints, AFA’s crop inspector Calistus Efukho said the ban would be maintained as long as corn imports were contaminated with the poisonous fungi.
The certificate of compliance should state that the aflatoxin levels meet the required maximum levels of 10 parts per billion.
However, he said, once the issue is resolved, maize trade with Tanzania will resume “as long as every importer is registered”.
Ms. Elizabeth Kinyanjui, secretary of Kifwa, called on the Kenyan government to compensate traders for the losses suffered.
She said that before the ban was taken, Kenyan authorities apparently did not consult with their Tanzanian and Ugandan counterparts.
At the Holili border post, up to 423 tonnes of maize were refused entry into Kenya for alleged aflatoxin contamination.
Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner Anna Mghwira said Tanzanian experts had tested the grains and found them safe for human consumption.
She said during her border visit yesterday that people or institutions in need of maize should contact her office.
Additional reports by