A Kenyan member of parliament (MP) is calling for the re-opening of the Kenya-Somalia border.

The border is closed as part of Kenya’s endeavours to protect itself from terror groups based in Somalia, but Abass Sheikh Mohamed believes the black market created by the border closure is allowing the Al Shabaab terror group to raise finance through illicit trade in food and clothing.

The MP for Wajir East, which shares a long, unmanned border with Somalia, wants it reopened for free movement of goods and services.

Militia’s trade operation
He said the “official but impractical” closure of the border has led to an inflow into Kenya of contraband goods and illicit weapons.

There have been reports of Al Shabaab militia roaming freely along the border, and others suggesting that substantial quantities of goods, mainly sugar and textile products, come into Kenya illegally across the border.

Formal arrangements
Mohamed is urging the Kenyan government to establish offices on the border, from where revenue, immigration and standards agencies can ensure proper inspection and taxation of inbound products.

“This will generate revenue. Above all, it will bar entry of contraband goods and illegal weapons,” he told local media.

Closure not working
“We must allow free movement of goods and services, and ensure we know who and what we are dealing with,” Mohamed said.

“Businesses should be able to have warehouses and trade in legally recognised goods. In any case, the border is officially closed, but technically open and porous,” he concluded.

Reports have already expressed the view that proceeds from illicit trade may have substantially financed Al Shabaab attacks on Kenya since 2011 when it sent its troops into Somalia in response to kidnappings and cross-border assaults said to have been perpetrated by the terror group.