EAC ministers approve bill on one-stop border posts
Protocol:draft agreement on ICT Networks
EAC Partner States’ ministers responsible for the Transport, Communications and Works, yesterday met and cleared the draft bill on one-stop border posts and adopted a draft EAC Protocol for ICT Networks
The Ministers were in Arusha for the 3rd Extraordinary Meeting of the Sectoral Council on Transport, Communications and Meteorology convened to consider the two bills as well as matters pertaining to the Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA).
Key among the agreements reached during the meeting was the adoption of the revised draft the bill, which the ministers directed the EAC Secretariat to forward to the 13th Sectoral Council on Legal and Judicial Affairs in March 2012 for consideration and approval.
Once the bill is cleared by the other key organs of the Community, namely the EAC Council of Ministers and the East African Legislative Assembly, an EAC one stop border posts Act is the envisaged outcome.
The Act would provide the legal framework for the operation of border posts of two Partner States under one roof, meaning they would become more efficient as Customs and Immigration checks, among other border operations.
It will be conducted in a “common control zone” that would eliminate the current practice that involves checks on both sides of a border between two Partner States.
Under the posts concept, all traffic would stop once in each direction of travel, facilitating faster movement of persons and goods, and allowing border control officers from the two Partner States to conduct joint inspections.
The key benefits posts promise are: less time spent crossing borders for travellers; simpler and more efficient clearance procedures for businesspeople while border agencies stand to gain through improved information sharing and risk management – leading to more effective controls.
The draft Bill, first developed in 2010, had remained pending after an October 2011 meeting of Ministers of Justice/Attorneys General identified various gaps that it directed the EAC Secretariat to tackle.
Addressing the meeting, EAC Deputy Secretary General (Productive and Social Sectors) Mr. Jean Claude Nsengiyumva, noted that infrastructure development in the region would be positively impacted by the enactment of the posts Bill.
The Ministers’ meeting also considered and adopted the draft EAC Protocol on ICT Networks, which seeks to, among others, promote: ICT services in the Common Market; the harmonization of ICT policies, laws and regulations; and establishment and management of ICT networks.