Local small businesses reap from infrastructure development at Mutukula

Situated 1,441 kilometres from the commercial capital Dar es Salaam lies a border post called Mutukula between Tanzania and Uganda, near the shores of Lake Victoria. Until very recently electricity was only provided on the Ugandan side, leaving many small businesses on the Tanzanian side literally in the dark.

However, things on the Tanzanian side changed with the construction of a One Stop Border Post, which included a ten kilometre stretch of electricity towards Bunazi in Tanzania. Locals have seen this as a huge boost for development in the area including being able to provide electricity to vital services including schools and hospitals.

A One Stop Border Post (OSBP) brings together immigration, customs and other government officials from the two countries under one roof, doing away with the need for trucks and persons to undergo clearance twice at both sides of the border. TradeMark Africa partnered with the governments of Tanzania and Uganda to construct a One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) to ease the movement of people and goods across the borders through reducing time and consequently cost incurred to cross the border.

Mashaka Misapa is a barber from Mutukula village on the Tanzanian side. On 28 February 2014, the small border town was transformed when they were connected to the power grid which was being extended to the OSBP. “Before the construction of the OSBP, we had no electricity and we were forced to use a generator which consumed a lot of fuel and increased our costs, said the barber who has now been in business for over a year in his new permanent premises and is doing a roaring trade. “We used to only make 15,000 TZS (7.5 USD) in profit a day, but now we can earn over 50,000 TZS (25 USD),” he said.

With the construction of permanent buildings with local authority support, Mashaka is also able to pay a reasonable rent and attract foot fall from people passing by. “Due to our location, more people come and have their hair cut as we are the only barbershop around and we can work into the evenings since we have a stable power supply,” he added.

Jaziba Asiru is 20 years-old and this is her first job working at the stationers, straight out of secretarial college. “We are open for twelve hours a day and provide photocopying and typing services for people using the border crossing,” she said. For young people like Jaziba the advent of electricity has meant more jobs are being created and the hope of a brighter future.

Before electricity was connected, all clearing and forwarding agents in Tanzania were forced to operate on the  Uganda side. Moses Kadera is a Tanzanian clearing and forwarding agent who was forced to run two offices on each side of the border to do business. “Documents needed to be dispatched on both sides of the border so I used to have to continue to physically cross the border multiple times in a day to carry out business,” he said. “Two years ago, this area was a chaotic environment with poor roads and no power. I have now closed my office in Uganda and operate solely from Tanzania, slashing my overheads and time in half,” Moses said.

Moses also received training from TradeMark Africa about the benefits of the OSBP and the introduction of new methods to help eliminate non-tariff barriers. When asked what other barriers he faces when doing business, Moses mentioned the weighbridges with their different weighing systems, and too many of them along the way, which delays transportation. “More work needs to be done on training traffic police who demand documents when they should be looking at the safety condition of the vehicle,” Moses added.

Banks, petrol stations, telecommunications, hotels and salons have all sprung up now that electricity is here.

Fabian Katabaro, Customs Assistant at the Mutukula border in Tanzania said, “The biggest impact the advent of electricity has had at Mutukula is reducing the over dependence on generators which is not only expensive but also environmentally unfriendly.  Before this, small businesses and government border agencies were forced to buy fuel for generators, residential houses depended on generators.  We had to do all our photocopying in Uganda and we could only get cold drinks on that side as well,” he said.

“In the past, we relied on solar power which was not strong enough to provide us with our energy needs for one day,” said Amani Mapande, In Charge of Customs. Thankfully that is now a thing of the past.

Content 6: Safeguarding locals’ interests: Sensitisation and information sharing was key for local buy in

As part of the installation of the One Stop Border Post families from Mutukula had to be relocated to make way for the new developments. As part of its social safeguards policy, TMA holds that its investment should not aggrieve or leave locals worse off than they were before intervention. Hence, TMA with its government implementing partner undertook sensitization in the locations and ensured compensation was done.

Joseph Cosma’s father was born in 1949 in Mutukula on the Tanzanian side right on the spot where gleaming new warehouses have been constructed for the OSBP. If you look at the area today, you will see a purpose built state-of-the-art development which houses multiple government agencies and immigration officials from Tanzania and Uganda.

Before construction started, Joseph received a phone call from the Tanzanian Revenue Authority (TRA), who is the leading agency at the OSBP to inform him about the construction of the new border post and the need to relocate his father’s building, which was a hotel. “Originally my father owned a guesthouse and shop on this site, but it had to be dismantled after Idi Amin’s war due to the threat of underground bombs. When we heard about the second relocation due to the new border post we were a bit wary at first. But the TRA explained everything very clearly and sensitively. We were one of 14 families who were compensated in this way.

“We did a lot of sensitization around the area where the OSBP is being built,” said Chris Mukaja, Principal Procurement Officer – Estates, TRA. “Mutukula was a success story as we managed to relocate people effectively. We even managed to move the bones of people’s ancestors and carry out reburial ceremonies as well. We have also done this at other border posts including Holili and Kabanga,” he added.

In addition to relocation services and electricity, a borehole has been installed at Mutukula so that the community can now draw water free of charge. “We were committed to maintaining a good relationship with the neighbouring community around the OSBP. We’ve installed electricity, water, management of sewage, security, fumigation and other services,” Mr. Mukaja said.