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Tanzania: Cargo Clearance At Tanzania, Burundi Border EasedWednesday, November 19, 2014 > 09:17:25
IT is a big relief to traders at the Burundi and Tanzania border as time for cargo clearance has significantly been reduced, thanks to a pilot project of One Stop Border Post (OSBP) at the Kobero and Kabanga border points.
The OSBP pilot project set up by the TradeMark East Africa to ease transit cargo clearance at the border post has shortened cross-border procedures for cargo to a single day when everything works perfectly.
The project began operations in June, this year at the Kobero and Kabanga border, which is a gateway for transit cargo for Burundi and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from Tanzania.
It handles about 70 per cent of all cargo transported by road to a landlocked East African Community (EAC) member state. Under the project, border control activities by Tanzania and Burundi authorities are combined under one roof to simplify procedures and save time for transit cargo clearance.
A Customs Officer of Burundi government revenue collection agency, Office Burundais des Recettes (OBR), Mr Emmanuel Niyongabo, said here over the weekend that it takes a single day to clear cargo at the OSBP pilot project when traders submit proper documents and the system is working well.
"Traders coming from Tanzania come here directly and it takes one day only to clear transit cargo," he told reporters on a site tour of One Stop Border Post facilities which are being built by TMEA at Kobero and Kabanga to ease cross-border trade by reducing cargo clearance time.
Last Friday, Burundi President Pierre Nkurunzinza laid the foundation stone for construction of the facilities at Kobero in Muyinga Province which is expected to cost $6.4 million.
TMEA 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. According to Mr Niyongabo the flow of cargo cleared at the border post has increased due to simplification of procedures.
He, however, did not give figures. For traders and truck drivers it has been a big relief. A truck driver from Tanzania, Mr Omari Juma said they were now spending fewer days to reach their destinations after delays at the border post were reduced. "It has been a big relief to us.
We can now take a single day to cross the border," he said noting that they used to take three to four days to cross the two border points which added to high costs of doing business between Tanzania and Burundi. A Burundian truck driver, Mr Shabani Bangatuyaga, shares similar views.
He told reporters that it was now easier to cross border to Burundi side after the pilot project began operations. According to Mr Bangatuyaga who was transporting transit cargo from Mombasa, Kenya to Burundi, the Kabanga route through Tanzania is shorter instead of going through Uganda and Rwanda.
"This is a short-cut. It takes only three days from Mombasa to Burundi while the route through Uganda and Rwanda takes seven days," he said.
Reduction of the total average time it takes to clear cargo at the Kabero and Kabanga border posts is expected to contribute in reduction high cross-border trade costs.
The TMEA Director for One Stop Border Posts, Mr Sjoerd Visser, told the 'Business Standard' that about 60 trucks cross the Kobero and Kabanga border posts every day.
He said their objective was to reduce time spent on crossing the borders which contribute to high costs of doing business, making the East African region uncompetitive.
There are concerns that transport costs in the East African region are among the highest in the world due, to among other things, high transit costs at border points. "The key thing is that we want to bring down time for crossing the border. That's the key message we want to emphasise," Mr Visser said.
An OSBP is a 'one stop' form of border crossing point jointly managed by neighbouring countries and where activities are streamlined to maximise efficiency.
The idea for OSBP came out of perceived gaps in initiatives to stimulate intra-regional trade which traditionally ignored complications in cross border trade and focused on hard infrastructure development projects, such as the construction and rehabilitation of roads, railroads, ports, power and ICT networks.
Regional leaders and development partners realised it was equally important to address problems that contribute to delays in transit cargo and passenger clearance at border points so as to promote intra-regional trade.
Under OSBP two border stop points are combined into one stop border point where activities of border control organisations of two neighbouring countries are put in one point to reduce bottlenecks and avoid duplication of clearance procedures at borders for people and goods.