BURUNDI President Pierre Nkurunzinza has urged increased efficiency by customs and immigration authorities at border posts to boost regional trade, expressing concern over time-wasting and cumbersome procedures.
President Nkurunzinza made the remarks at the laying of the foundation stone for construction of One Stop Border Point (OSBP) facilities at Kobero in Muyinga Province that is set to cut on delays in transit cargo clearance at the border with Tanzania.
The $6.4 million facilities constructed under financial and technical support of TradeMark Africa (TMA) is aimed at reducing time spent for cargo and passenger clearance at the border posts of Kobero and Kabanga on the Tanzania’s side by combining activities of border control agencies of the two countries at one point.
TMA is also constructing similar facilities at Kabanga border post and according to officials the two facilities are expected to cut down transit costs across Tanzania and Burundi border by 30 per cent.
“Time is money, the concept of one stop border post comes to solve the big problem: Delays in controls at the border,” President Nkurunziza told traders and hundreds of Muyungi Province residents at a colourful ceremony held at the Kobero border post over the weekend.
He said the OSBP was an important project that would reduce delays to clear cargo at Kobero and Kabanga border posts and in turn contribute to reducing trade costs in East Africa.
The project was going along with the objectives of the East African Community (EAC) to reduce delays in crossing our borders for goods and people and reduce the cost of doing cross-border trade, he said.
“Talking about a One Stop Border Post amounts to saying that before there were several stop border posts; multiple stops involving a waste of time to cross-border travelers, particulars businesspeople,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Trade Mark East Africa, Mr Frank Matsaert, said the event marked an important milestone in the efforts to reduce costs of cross-border trade in East African region which are mainly attributed to delays in cargo clearance at border posts.
He said transport costs in the East African region were among the highest in the world due among other things high transit costs at border points.
“This is an important junction on the way to achieve objectives of reducing high costs of trade across border points in the EAC region,” he said.
The Kobero border post is a gateway for transit cargo for Burundi and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from Tanzania. It handles more that 70 per cent of all cargo transport by road to Burundi.
According to the TMA Director of One Stop Border Posts, Mr Sjoerd Visser, about 60 trucks cross the Kobero and Kabanga border posts every day.
The bulk of transit cargo to Burundi from Tanzania includes cement and other construction materials, cooking oil and petroleum products. Tanzania’s Ambassador to Burundi, Dr James Nzagi, hailed TMA for supporting efforts by regional leaders to facilitate cross-border trade which is vital in the integration process of the region.
“This is the most important moment. We are trying to make it easy for East Africans to travel and do business across borders,” he told the ‘Daily News.’
TMA is funding construction of 13 OSBPs in East Africa where each post consists of an office building for the border control agencies, parking for trucks, a ramp for offloading goods and an inspection warehouse.
Source: All Africa
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.