Kenya, Uganda seek to open new border post to stop banditry, revive trade
Kenya and Uganda have launched talks for the opening of a one-stop border post in Lokiriama in northwest Kenya with the aim of fighting banditry in the region and in turn boosting cross-border trade.
The two neighbors revived their September 2019 memorandum of understanding (MoU) that sought to enhance cross-border trade between the Turkana and Karamoja, by establishing immigration and customs border points at Lokiriama, Nawountos and Nakitong’o. Kenya’s Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo said the border post would enhance movement and trade between the two nations and investments in the cross-border road network and improved security and surveillance. The border region is mainly occupied by the Turkana and Pokot ethnic communities in northwestern Kenya, and the Karamajong, an ethnic group of agro-pastoral herders living in the northeast of Uganda.
These communities have over the years engaged in banditry, making the region unsafe. Kenya’s and Uganda’s governments, however, see the opening of the border post as one of the measures to end cattle rustling, or stock theft, an age-old tradition that has been commercialized by international criminal networks in East Africa and the Horn. Besides Uganda, Kenya has also established several one-stop border posts with Tanzania and Ethiopia and officials argue banditry has reduced in some of these areas. Kenya’s trade with Uganda stood at $353.63 million in the first half of 2022, down 9%, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. But according to officials, banditry has also been fueled by politicians becoming bold to challenge the government and pose insecurity in both Uganda and South Sudan.