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Friday, April 15, 2016

Regional passports for global recognition soon

HOLDERS of East African Community (EAC) passports who previously were limited to travelling to only five countries will from next year be able to cover other parts of the world.

Speaking after a sensitisation seminar for Members of Parliament (MPs) of the Standing Order Committees on the integration process, the chairman of Tanzanian MPs in the EA Legislative Assembly (EALA), Mr Makongoro Nyerere, said that this comes after presidents of member states signed an agreement.

“Following the signing, the community decided to upgrade the status of the EAC passport by making it international. Already the design has been picked where it will be uniform but each country will have its own name,” he said.

Mr Nyerere explained that this is the first part of the phasing out of national passports and that the production of the newly designed passports has begun with specific quotas going to individual countries.Earlier, Mr Nyerere had given a talk on the integration process of the EAC, saying that the

process had not gone as planned because politicians have not shown the required zeal, but there was a need to revive the push and massively educate the masses on the opportunities and challenges.

He said that the agreed areas of cooperation among member states include trade, infrastructure, investment, industry promotion, increased quality, financial services, human resources, science and technology, agriculture and food security, environment and natural resources, tourism and wildlife, health, social welfare and development, gender equity, politics, security and the judiciary.

“The community has made great strides in some of these areas of cooperation like the one stop border posts where a Tanzanian coming in from Kenya only goes through the immigration on that side, this helps save time. Others are the collective construction of roads like the Arusha-Namanga-Athi River and the collective generation of energy,” he said.

During discussions, a number of issues were raised like the one stop border posts and that apart from educating the masses on the opportunities that exist in the free movement of goods and people, the very people around and in these border posts needed to be enlightened because evidence suggests they do not know.

EALA member, Dr Nderakindo Kessy, concurred that sensitising the masses was a vital component in the revival of the integration, but was quick to add that the fact that Kiswahili isn’t used in the EALA limits the people as local media from effectively educating the people.

Another member, Ms Maryam Ussi said that the fact that Tanzania lacked an integration policy for the EAC was a stumbling block because she feels it is a vital document that would help give direction on how to overcome the challenges and assist in strategising.

Presently the policy is in its draft stage. Earlier this month, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) embarked on a sensitisation and outreach drive in all five partner states of the EAC.

The theme of the activity is; “EAC Integration Agenda: Accessing the gains.” This came after a rallying call by the EAC Heads of State, for EALA Members to go out and sensitise East Africans on the integration process and its benefits.

It was noted that citizens were still not averse with the integration issues or the milestones so far realised. The activity will be undertaken in two phases. The first phase will take place in April 2016 while the next is scheduled for June 2016.

The activity will focus on the sensitisation of the EAC citizens on the overall integration process; promote liaison with EAC Parliaments and key stakeholders; promote integration with the civil society and the private sector.

Others are to enhance the mutual relationships and sustainable networking between EALA and EAC populace and informing the EAC populace on the role of EALA in the integration process.

/Daily News.

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