Tanzania Mutukula Border Traders Accuse District Council of ‘Irksome’ Taxes

Some of the trucks at busy Mutukula border in Tanzania

Misenyi District, Tanzania- Mutukula border cereal traders in Misenyi District, Kagera Region, are at loggerheads with the authorities over unfriendly business environments caused by ambiguous restrictions, road barriers, incessant levies at marketplaces, and transit illegal taxes imposed on their produce.

In conversation with the Acting Kagera Region Commissioner, Martine Shigella, who made a tour of the district recently, the traders expressed uneasiness on the mode in which the taxman impedes the smooth running of the business, noting that they are forced to pay high levies to the district council contrary to other traders from other parts of the country.

“The Tanzania Mutukula in Missenyi district borders Uganda. I am not happy with the way the imposed taxes stifle our businesses. Look at that truck there. Suppose it is from Geita (Tanzania) in transit to Kampala, Uganda, it is taxed Sh140,000. But a Missenyi trader with a district council business permit owning a store is forced to pay Sh560,000 for a truck that offloads goods at Mutukula. This is nothing but a nuisance to businesses”, a trader, Bakuza Hassan, told the Deputy RC.

He also pointed out that, apart from paying goods’ levies, traders are also charged highly at the open marketplaces. Explaining further, Hassan said even traders operating away from the marketplaces face similar hurdles.

He also named, myriads of inconveniences, including road barriers to have forced traders to shut down their businesses over the incurred losses. This move he said has prompted traders from the other side of the country to shift their capital to a profitable and friendly working environment.

Another trader, Joseph Cosmas said that he buys rice from Geita and pays produce cess tax, and upon entering Missenyi District, he is again charged the same tax.

Murshid Bazar said the district council reported success collecting taxes levies in the 2021/22 financial year and wondered for what purpose it has raised taxes.

“We are patriotic. We are the pioneers of the Mutukula market. We followed all the necessary procedures, including seeking a permit from the district council that endorsed the deal, leaving alone the other costs incurred to oil officers’ palms. It is disheartening to see that our prospects had ended up in disarray. Mutukula will take decades to shine if the authorities will keep entertaining misdeeds. The other side of the border in Uganda will always outdo our progresses over business-as-usual-attitude,” charged Bazar.

Aisha Mohamed and Hajj Abdu Majid Kayondo asked the district council to have all traders with the by-laws and amendments, explaining that by having the documents businesses will be in a better position to stand up for their rights, unlike this time when dishonest officers capitalize on their ignorance to embrace mistreatment.

According to the council bylaws, every trader who brings food products within the district is obliged to pay 2,000/- per sack or basket and whoever brings in marketplaces is supposed to pay 1600/-

However, Mr. Shigella quipped the taxman’s responses charging that, it was unfair to have not taxed a trader who has not bought their foodstuff at the marketplace and charge the same person at the road barrier

In defense, the revenue officer said it was difficult to ascertain a person taking the goods to their stores and those heading to the marketplace. He said it was taken for granted that traders going to Mutukula were entitled to pay the set levies.

The complaints about business inconveniences in Kagera Region are retrogressive. Addressing residents at Uhuru ground in Bukoba municipality, former Kagera Regional Commissioner, Albert Chalamila spoke tough about inconveniencing traders in the region.

He said it was discouraging to have a lot of roadblocks in the region which neighbors five countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (and Kenya by Lake Victoria), where the movement of doing business to promote economic diplomacy, should be highly adhered to.

The regional boss directed the then Kagera Police Commander, ACP William Mwampaghale, to remove unnecessary roadblocks.

Citing the Bukoba-Mutukula highway which denies the opportunity of doing business at ease, and in a conducive environment for mutual interests for the peoples of both countries of Tanzania and Uganda.

“There has been longtime complaint from local communities and neighboring countries’ traders about roadblocks and appeals to the government to reduce them,” noted Chalamila.

The Acting Regional Commissioner, Martin Shigella, had also directed the district council to meet the regional authorities alongside the regional safety and security committee to liaise with traders in ways that will amicably end the misgivings once and for all.

By Mutayoba Arbogast, K-NEWS, Tanzania Contributor

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