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Traders Protest as Tanzania Blocks 200 Uganda-bound Rice, Maize Trucks

The Government of Tanzania through its ministry of agriculture has temporarily suspended issuance of permits to Ugandan traders who export rice and maize flour from the country.

As a result, about 200 heavy trucks loaded with rice and maize seeds have been barred from crossing to Uganda through Mutukula one-stop border post.
The ban, according to a circular from the ministry took effect on June 13.

Currently, the Tanzania Ministry of Agriculture in conjunction with the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute and Tanzania Fertilizer Regulatory Authority are conducting an assessment exercise on seasons, the availability of corn foods and manufacturing conditions of foods in their country for 2023/2024 financial year.

”Permits for exportation for corn, corn flour and rice have been temporarily suspended until the government completes the assessment exercise, availability of crop seasons, shipping of corn foods and manufacturing conditions,” the circular  reads in part.

The government of Tanzania has also reminded all traders dealing in cereal seeds to acquire all documents required to do the business.

According to the chairperson of Kampala Rice Traders Association, Mr Livingstone Ssenyonga, their members who had consignments of rice and maize in Tanzania were given only 7 hours to evacuate their products or have their merchandise blocked from crossing to Uganda.

“This angered our members and we have since petitioned the Minister for Trade, Mr Francis  Mwebesa to convene a bilateral meeting with the Tanzania authorities and address this matter,” he said in an interview on Thursday.

He said many Ugandan traders get rice and other cereals like maize and beans  from Kahama located 460km from Mutukula border and therefore, it wasn’t possible to meet the seveni -hour –ultimatum given by Tanzanian authorities.

”The action by Tanzanian authorities  is a non-tariff barrier aimed at pushing Ugandan traders out of business yet Tanzania continues to import products from  here [Uganda] ,” he said.  

Mr Henry Lukyamuzi, one of the rice traders, said his truck carrying 34 tonnes of rice has been parked at Mutukula border since June 13.
”This is unfair to us and I doubt whether the spirit of East African community of allowing free trade still holds meaning,” he said.

Mr Joseph Nkunda , a trader  found at Mutukula border stranded with his 39 tonnes of rice said he has in the last 10 days incurred huge  expenses in terms of meeting feeding and accommodation needs of the truck driver he hired from Tanzania.

“We ask our government to talk to their Tanzanian counterparts to give us a grace period of two weeks to evacuate our consignments since we had already paid for the goods, paid for insurance and clearing agents and also hired Tanzania trucks to transport the products,” he said.

Source : MONITOR