Row over Zanzibar Waters is First Test for East African Community
Experts in marine resources, tourism, immigration as well as police from Tanzania and Kenya were meeting here Monday to discuss the illegal use of a sea channel.
The experts were meeting under the aegis of the newly-formed East African Community (EAC) -- made up of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda -- to examine complaints by the government of Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous offshore state of Tanzania, that the Pemba channel and its resources had long been exploited with little revenue accruing to the state.
The channel, which lies between the Zanzibari island of Pemba and mainland Tanzania, "has been used as a gateway for smuggling of cloves, coral heads and seashells as well as trafficking of narcotics between our partner states," the principal secretary in Zanzibar's finance ministry, Julian Raphael, told the meeting.
"This is in no way a welcome trade phenomenon, and we should use all the resources at our desposal to combat it," he added.
The channel, characterized by sandy, muddy tidal flats, mangroves, coral reefs and rocky platforms is rich in fish and marine resources.
Nyamajeje Weggoro, an economist working with the EAC, told AFP that Zanzibar has been complaining of not benefiting from the rich channel which lies in its territory.
"Under the request of the Zanzibar President Amani Karume, the EAC secretariat decided to call for a meeting in Zanzibar to discuss and reach a lasting solution to the dispute," Weggoro said -- ZANZIBAR, Tanzania (AFP)
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