Kenya’s authorities say the Moyale One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) remains operational despite the ongoing political upheavals in Ethiopia that have seen the country announce a state of emergency.
A customs official in Kenya’s northern region said the border point with Ethiopia has not been officially closed and that business is going on as usual.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) northern region coordinator Nicholas Kinoti said the border post was operating normally, dispelling reports that it had been shut following unrest in Ethiopia.
“Operations at the post are going on normally, a high-powered government delegation is on the ground in Moyale,” Mr Kinoti told the Nation.
“The government has taken a cautionary measure to address any eventuality that may happen in the event the situation gets out of hand in Ethiopia, “he added.
Ethiopia’s cabinet declared a nationwide state of emergency last week as the rebel groups advanced to the capital Addis Ababa.
The six-month state of emergency allows, among other things, for roadblocks to be established, transport services to be disrupted, curfews to be imposed, and for the military to take over in certain areas.
Whereas Kenya insists the border has not been closed, the state of emergency in itself will restrict the movement of goods from the Moyale crossing point to Ethiopia, as traders might not want to be caught unawares in the wake of uncertainties.
The move came after the Tigrayan fighters said they had captured the strategic towns of Dessie and Kombolcha in the neighbouring Amhara region in recent days, and also indicated they might advance further south, on Addis Ababa.
The government said soldiers were still battling for control for the two key towns located 400km from the capital.
The Moyale border point was operationalised mid this year, giving a major boost to trade between the two countries.
Soda ash, agrochemicals, medicaments, manufactured products, and aluminum utensils are among the leading exports by Kenya to Ethiopia, while glass bottles, processed leather products, cereals, and cement are among the products Ethiopia sells to its southern neighbour.
The construction of the Moyale OSBP was part of the $329 million projects that included bitumen standard 438-kilometer road from Merille River to Moyale in Kenya and 300-kilometer roads in Ethiopia.
This initial construction phase was funded through a loan by African Development Bank and a grant from European Union with Kenya and Ethiopian governments also providing funds for the project.
The next phase entailed the implementation of Integrated Border Management Procedures and Systems on both sides of the border at $1.65 million, which was funded by the UK government through regional trade agency TradeMark East Africa.