Efficient border crossing to boost trade between Tanzania and Uganda with launch of Mutukula one stop border post

Mutukula, November 9th, 2017:  H.E. John Pombe Magufuli, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni President of the Republic of Uganda joined by Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, East African Community Secretary General, officially launched Mutukula One Stop Border Post (OSBP) located on the Uganda/Tanzania border, today.

Construction of the Mutukula OSBP was carried out with funding of US$11.7million from the United Kingdom through the Department for International Development (DFID) while the systems and other related soft infrastructure equivalent to US$1.2million was funded by the Government of Canada, through Global Affairs, Canada. The OSBP investment includes office buildings, roads and parking yards, cargo verification bays, scanner shed, passenger sheds, targeting booths, warehouse and canopies, ICT networks and hardware, furniture, and institutional support to the border agencies.

The OSBP ensures effective border control mechanisms are in place. It will boost trade by cutting the time taken to clear goods between the two nations, thus contributing to a reduction in transport cost, whilst increasing volumes of transhipment cargo through the Central Corridor. It is expected that time to cross the border will reduce by at least a third.

An OSBP is a “one stop” form of border crossing point jointly managed by adjoining Partner States, where multiple border agencies cooperate and collaborate with each other, and effectively coordinate their activities to maximise their operational efficiency. OSBP arrangement brings together under one roof, all the Government agencies performing border crossing controls procedures, doing away with need for motorised traffic and persons to undergo clearance twice at both sides of the border. This arrangement expedites movement, release and clearance of goods and persons across borders, by streamlining border procedures, automation of the border processes and simplification of trade documents.

Speaking at the event, Uganda president H.E Yoweri Museveni said, “I want to thank the British government who have supported us through TMA, in the construction of the one stop border post making it easy to cross the borders and also to do business. Trade is a means that will help us create prosperity for the people.  My government is committed to creating wealth and jobs for the people through creation of enabling environment for services, ICT, commercial agriculture and industries.”

Addressing the crowd in the Kiswahili and directing that only be 3 police road blocks between Dare-es-Saalam and Mutukula are official, Tanzania President H.E John Pombe Magufuli said, “Mutukula is an important node of Tanzania and Uganda. I understand over 400 World Food Programme trucks carrying food aid for refugees go through here, so the faster clearance is benefiting not only our traders, but also persons in need, and that is important. I am happy that as a result of the OSBP in Mutukula, Tanzania is now able to collect revenue from agencies like Tanzania Bureau of Standards, who were initially not represented at this border point, but are now here because of the OSBP.”

EAC SG Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko “Much as the One Stop Border concept may look new to some people, the framers of our integration instruments envisioned the need for these facilities and embedded them in the EAC Customs Union Protocol at the time of its negotiation. The first OSBP operations was at Malaba railway station between Uganda and Kenya over ten years ago. At the same time Customs Departments having realized that multiple examination of goods at our internal borders was wasteful and caused unnecessary costs to business, started joint examination of cargo of which Mutukula Border was a pioneer.  These pilot programs provided a practical justification for upscaling the One Stop Border program in the entire region.”

UKAID has provided over USD 52million to the East African Transit Improvement Programme (EATIP) through TMA, as a contribution to the World Banks’ East Africa Trade and Transport Facilitation Project (EATTFP).

The UK High Commissioner to Uganda, Peter West said

“Increasing Uganda’s trade with its neighbors and the rest of the World is vital for generating growth, promoting job creation and reducing poverty. The UK government is proud to have contributed over £90 million through TradeMark Africa to support Uganda and Tanzania to reduce the barriers to trade. By cutting red tape, reforming customs processes and improving roads, ports, and border posts, the UK is supporting the creation of an environment essential for businesses to grow. The completion of the Mutukula border post marks an important milestone towards our goal of reducing by a third the time to import from the EAC and the rest of the world.”

Over the years, delays in cross border clearance were attributed to duplication of handling procedures on either side of the border, poor institutional arrangement and cargo management systems inadequate physical infrastructures and services and immigration management. The new established OSBP has already addressed some of these challenges. Surveys indicate that since operationalisation of the OSBP early this year, the time to cross from Uganda to Tanzania has reduced by 66% from 10 hours in 2011 to 3.4 hours 27 minutes in June 2017. Whereas, crossing from Tanzania to Uganda has reduced by 90% from 46 hours to 4.5 in June 2017.

TMA CEO Frank Matsaert, said, “The completion and operationalisation of the Mutukula OSBP is a crucial milestone in increasing access to markets and the facilitation of the movement of cargo along the Central Corridor. When initially investing $12 million with our donors, the United Kingdom and Canada, greater access to markets, increased efficiency that would reduce costs by reducing time and improved infrastructure were just a few of our end goals. Ultimately, our projects in physical infrastructure and automation of key government trade processes like customs, have complemented each other to reduce the cost of doing business and boost trade volumes, increasing both Uganda’s and Tanzania’s overall trade competitiveness. Most importantly, they have contributed to governments being businesses being able to expand thus creating jobs.

Official data shows that an average of 542 vehicles (310 of those cargo trucks) pass through the Mutukula-Mutukula crossing from Central Corridor into Uganda.

TMA through its donors and in partnership with the East Africa Community has since 2010 todate supported 15 OSBPs in East Africa including South Sudan and has invested about US$117 million in OSBPs and access roads. They are: Kenya and Uganda’s Busia/Busia, Kenya and Uganda’s Malaba/Malaba, Rwanda and Uganda’s Kagitumba/Mirama Hills, Tanzania and Uganda’s Mutukula/Mutukula, Kenya and Tanzania’s Holili/Taveta, South Sudan and Uganda Nimule/Elegu, Burundi and Tanzania’s Kobero/Kabanga and lastly Tunduma on the Tanzanian side.