East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Thursday, 11th August, 2016: A group of 14 adventurous cyclists who are on a five-day bicycling tour of the East African Community region were this morning flagged off on another leg of their long journey from the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania by the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation, Mr. Charles Njoroge.
The cyclists who left the Ugandan capital, Kampala on 1st July, 2016 on a two month tour of the five EAC Partner States are on a mission to sensitize ordinary East Africans in addition to creating awareness on the EAC integration process.
The team – whose trip is dubbed Tour D’EAC passed through left Nairobi on 8th July, 216 where they visited the State Department of East African Integration headquarters in Nairobi. They then came to Arusha via Namanga after several stopovers including Kajiado.
EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation, Mr. Charles Njoroge (right), flags off the 14 cyclists who are participating in a two month tour of the EAC Partner States at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
The group members who embarked on the trip without sponsorship do not spend the night in hotels but in public places including police stations, schools, churches and camps. They also prepare their own food. They endeavour to spend time with communities while educating and informing them about the integration process.
Briefing Mr. Njoroge on their itinerary, the group’s leader, Mr. John Balongo, said they had embarked on the trip after realizing that most East Africans including critical groups such as the media, police and students at all levels were ignorant about the EAC integration process.
East African Bicycling Expedition Team Leader John Balongo speaking when they were received by the Deputy Secretary General (Political Federation), Mr. Charles Njoroge (seated right) at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Mr. Balongo said they had noted that knowledge about the East African integration was limited to a select group of top government officials but not the people at the grassroots who have no information on what the integration entails.
“We have come across security personnel and students who don’t know what the EAC is all about. Many do not even know what the EAC Partner States are. We therefore need to actively involve communities in the integration so that they can own the process,” said Balongo.
He said their ambition is to make the event biannual in addition to involving cyclists from the other four Partner States to make participation in the event fully regional.
Receiving the group, Mr. Njoroge described their initiative as novel, brave and inspiring saying it would go a long way in marketing the EAC integration to the people at the grassroots.
The DSG said the initiative was in line with various directives by the Summit of EAC Heads of State to the EAC Secretariat and Partner States’ governments to educate the ordinary folk on the integration.
EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation, Mr. Charles Njoroge (fourth right, front row), with the 14 cyclists before he flagged them off on the next phase of their journey to Bujumbura, Burundi.
Mr. Njoroge said the EAC would look at ways of supporting the initiative including financing making it an annual event in collaboration with other stakeholders. Mr. Njoroge later on flagged off the group whose next destination is Bujumbura, Burundi.
The team is expected in Bujumbura on Sunday, 21st August, 2016 and Kigali, Rwanda on Thursday, 25th August, 2016. From Kigali, the group will travel through Kabale, Mbarara, Masaka in Western Uganda before arriving at the Sudanese Embassy in Kampala on 31st August, 2016.
Thursday, 1st September, 2016 will be the grand finale of the tour with a Closing/Awards Ceremony in the Ugandan capital city.