A few weeks ago, Tanzania safari and tour operators got some unforgettable disturbing news. According to sources, Jomo Kenyatta Airport began blocking Tanzanian registered commercial vehicles, like safari cars and transit buses, from entering the airport to either drop off or delivery clients. An excerpt from a periodic commentator from Nairobi on the issue went like this;
‘We are now reciprocating their silly games. You may remember that over the past years they have come up with requirements for work permits for drivers, extra fees for vehicles crossing over the border and all sorts of other uncalled for rubbish. The old accord does clearly say that Kenyan airports are off limits. We know that they are picking passengers by the bus loads from pick up points in Arusha for transport to JKIA or into the city. They are not barred from the city but now they cannot get into JKIA. If they want to change the agreement, let them come and sit down and present their wish list. We also have a wish list and Bologonja is on top of it. They are keeping that border closed hiding behind environmental reasons of increased traffic but the traffic goes up to Lobo Safari Lodge anyway, except it all comes from Arusha and then goes back to Arusha, doubling the emissions. They ignored our invitation to join the common tourist Visa initiative and there are other issues too with have with them. As I said, they can come and talk but it must be a give and take and not just take take take as they have done in the past. The Northern Corridor Integration is working well for us and we can no longer be blackmailed. We have shown fast tracked progress in many areas and there is no more room for people who stand on the brake pedal with both feet.”
This actions is apparently valid basing on a 1985 accord signed between the two countries when the common border was closed, later after the collapse of the first East African Community, the border was reopened.
Reports say that the Tanzanian government is in contact with their Kenyan colleagues to find a solution as the transfer buses from Arusha now have to drop their clients off at a nearby site from where Kenyan registered cars then transport the passengers, at considerable loss of time and inconvenience, to not only the airport, but the clients as well for their departure and vice versa.
Some people, believe issues like this should be addressed on the EAC platform for purposes of objectivity and amicable resolution among partners.
Strained relationships of any kind among EAC member countries is bound to have a negative effect on tourism seeing as most tourists who visit Kenya tend to visit Tanzania as well. The EAC relations are among other things meant to make travel across borders of member countries easier for both locals and visitors to the region.
It would indeed be a sad thing if tourism in Tanzania and Kenya were to be affected by these actions.