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By Arusha Times Correspondent
Burundi nationals travelling to Tanzania are bitter over the continued visa requirement to enter Tanzania.
Those affected include business people and other officials from the neighbouring country coming to attend regional meetings.
Burundi delegates, who were in Arusha for the Eastern Africa Farmers Congress, said they were forced to pay $ 20 each to get visa to enter Tanzania.
Ms Sezibera Annida, who is the chairperson of the Burundi Farmers' Network, said she was suprised by the demand for visa since her country was already member of the East African Community.
"Why should we have to pay for visa while Tanzanians travelling to Burundi are not required to produce visa or pay anything" ? she asked.
According to her, all Burundi delegates to the meeting which started on Tueday had to pay for their entry visa at the Namanga border post.
Delegates from other EAC partner states, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda were not bothered on the visa requirement apart from producing ordinary travel documents.
She said the authorities in her country are still concerned why only Tanzania was charging for entry visa unlike other members of the regional bloc.
The matter, she further stated, has been raised several times by her country with the Tanzanian authorities but the latter were yet to lift visa for visiting Burundi nationals.
Ms Annida said this was her third time to visit Tanzania and in all instances, she had to apply and pay to get an entry visa.
Burundi alongside with Rwanda joined EAC on July 1, 2007. Various protocols on regional integration encourage free movement of the people to enhance intra-regional trade, among others.
When asked to comment on the snag, the deputy minister for EAC Affairs Mohamed Abood regretted that the matter had not yet been sorted out.
"It is true and unfortunate that this problem is still persisting. The Government will address this matter and see that there are no visa requirements anymore," he said.
Mr. Abood, who was in Arusha for the Congress at an Arusha hotel, admitted that lifting visa requirements for Burundians could have been delayed by poor communication among various government departments.
"The Government would sort out this issue once and foreever. We need time to consult various institutions," he hinted without further clarification.
Recently a section of the media in the EA region carried stories about difficulties business people and traders from neigbouring countries such as Burundi were having in getting into Tanzania.
Responding to the allegations, a Tanzanian member of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) said the mishap could have been caused by poor communication among several authorities.
EAC member states are expected to sign the Common Market Protocol later this year. The protocol is expected to enable the region have one Common Market.