The operationalisation of the One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) has significantly cut the time spent by transporters along the central and northern corridors, the Chief Executive Officer of Private Sector Federation; Stephen Ruzibiza has said.
The central corridor connects Rwanda to the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania while the Northern Corridor links the country to Mombasa Port in Kenya.
There are currently five operational OSBPs on Rwandan borders with neighbouring countries.
These are; Ruhwa and Gasenyi- Nemba with Burundi, Rusumo with Tanzania, Kagitumba-Mirama Hills with Uganda and Rubavu with DR Congo. The Katuna- Gatuna border, also with Uganda, is under construction while funds are being sought to build the Kanyaru- Akanyaru post with Burundi.
Ruzibiza told The New Times that before the OSBPs, a truck would spend about 21 days from the port to its destination but thanks to the concept the days had reduced significantly.
“The number of days that a truck spends from the port to it’s destination is now about five to seven days in case there are some hitches but if nothing unusual happens on the trip, the time today can even be four days. The improvement is about 80 percent,” he said.
As of December 2016, a report by the Central Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency shows that crossing time at Rusomo, Mutukula and Kobero OSBPs had dropped by average of 59.4 percent, 48.1 percent and 59.8 percent respectively.
Customs and immigration clearance at Rusizi/Ruzizi was 3.38 hours and 4.24 hours for Rubavu/Goma, which is significantly different from Rusumo OSBP at 41 minutes, two hours at Mutukula OSBP.
The report attributes this to public awareness campaigns targeting border users and operators especially drivers as well as improvement of networks and power stability.
Ruzibiza said that of Non-Tariff Barriers like transit stickers are scrapped, the time spent by the trucks can reduce even further.
Speaking exclusively to The New Times, the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (eCTS) Project Manager at Rwanda Revenue Authority, Alex Shyaka, agreed and said that though his system had been set up to facilitate traders who were incurring high costs tracking their goods, it was made available as an enforcement tool to complement tools like OSBPs that were already in place.
“By setting up eCTS, we were trying to ensure that traders are facilitated and not paying big sums in following up but with concepts like one stop border posts, they are reaping big,” he said.
Abu-Bakar Salim Maina is a truck driver who has been plying the Dar es Salam- Kigali route for the last 15 years. He says me that though there are still challenges, their work had been made easy by the new systems.
“We still have to deal with some challenges like transporters and agents who are yet to understand the concept very well and want to use money to have things done but otherwise, I am happy that the trips are shorter now and get to spend time with my son,” he said.
In 2015, average OSBP crossing time for Rusumo, Mutukula and Kobero were 1:42 hours, 3:51 hours and 5:38 hours respectively but dropped to just 41.4 minutes, 2 hours and 2:16 hours respectively.