Crossing East African Community (EAC) borders has until recently been characterized by repetitive procedures and considerable wasted time, especially for business people.
Routinely, importers would comply with Customs requirements in neighbouring countries before doing the same in their own. This adversely affected the flow of regional trade due to duplication of effort.
One Stop Border Posts (OSBP) being set up across the EAC are meant to do away with all that.
During the handover ceremony, URA Assistant Commissioner Customs Audit, Dickson Kateshumbwa said the OSBP would enable “seamless flow of goods”.
“URA has modernized its systems. However, with infrastructure and facilities in a bad state, goods would not move fast. All this will change when the facility is constructed because all officials will be in one office,” he said.
The ceremony took place a stone throw away from the existing URA office, to the contractor Amogoli General Enterprises, signified the beginning of a 12-month construction period.
The Ush8.9 billion (about $3.4 million) facility will sit on an eight acre piece of land not far from the Rwanda border.
It will comprise of a customs facility, together with units for immigration, security, commercial service providers and access roads adjacent to parking yards.
The World Bank has funded the OSBP while the European Union will provide funds for the access roads and parking yards. Breaking ground will come after an interlude of uncertainity.
There have been delays. Without delving into details, Benon Kajuna, the Commissioner Policy and Planning at Uganda’s Ministry of Works and Transport said the initial design consultant declined the offer.
Echoing Rwanda’s concerns, Kajuna asked the contractor to ensure that the environment is not degraded and to ensure that traffic continues to flow during the construction period.
Clearing agents’ chief, Samuel Sserwanga was excited about the proposed OSBP. “Right now we have no security lights and it is a bit risky transacting at night. However, when this project is complete, our twenty-four hour operations will be safe,” he said.
Similar structures are being constructed on border points in Malaba, Busia, Mutukula, Mirama Hills and Elegu.
In April 2013, the East African Legislative Assembly passed the One Stop Border Posts Bill, 2012.
It then became Community law after being later assented to by the EAC Heads of State.
Basically, OSBPs in the Community are supposed to improve trade by reducing paperwork and duplication of effort.
This is all part of maintaining an efficient movement of goods and people across EAC borders.
Partner States are required to designate control zones at their respective border posts.
The law makes provision for the application of border control laws and provides for institutional arrangements in the co-ordination and monitoring of the one stop border posts. In so doing however, the law does not affect the rights of any adjoining Partner State(s) to take temporary measures in the interest of defence, security, public safety and public order.
Common Border posts designated in the EAC as One Stop Border Posts include the Taveta-Holili border and the Namanga border (Kenya-United Republic of Tanzania), Busia and Malaba borders (Kenya – Uganda) and the Kanyaru-Akanyaru border (Burundi–Rwanda). Others are the Mutukula border (United Republic of Tanzania–Uganda), Gasenyi-Nemba border (Burundi, Rwanda) and Lungalunga-Horohoro border (Kenya – United Republic of Tanzania).
Source: The East African Business Week
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