The Government is set to revamp operations at Rusumo border post in order to increase its capacity to cope with the growing traffic of cargo.
This was observed on Sunday as officials toured the border to assess existing challenges and how to address them.
Officials included the Minister for Trade and Industry, Soraya Hakuziyaremye; the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Richard Sezibera, and the Minister for Infrastructure, Amb. Clever Gatete.
They were accompanied by the Eastern Province governor Fred Mufurukye, migration and customs officials, as well security officials and local leaders.
Officials toured various facilities at the border with Tanzania before holding a closed meeting where they discussed trade related activities.
With the Gatuna border post under construction, Rusumo is now Rwanda’s busiest border
About 95 per cent of Rwanda’s imports pass through Rusumo border, ferried from Dar es Salaam port.
According to official statistics some 270 heavy trucks pass through Rusumo border every day, making cargo clearance process hard with limited number of staff.
“This is one of our most important border posts and the meeting and the field visit here were to assess how we can improve trade flow on this border post between Rwanda and Tanzania,” minister Hakuziyaremye told the media shortly after the meeting.
She added that, in addition to being understaffed, the border post lacks some necessary infrastructure.
“Some of the challenges that were raised here, include the (slow) pace of flow of trucks that are cleared, and lack of enough staff from different institutions that work here,” she said
“We have taken action and decisions on how to increase personnel and how we can upgrade infrastructure around here.”
She said the meeting also agreed on setting up a joint team to accelerate the construction of a modern cross-border market here to boost trade.
According to the minister, the market will be complete within four months.
Drivers speak out
“There is a lot the Government can do to ease the clearance process for heavy trucks, especially services are not as fast as they should be and, apparently, it is associated with shortage of staff,” said Joseph Tumwine, a truck driver.
Tumwine said he had crossed Rusumo border in the morning, at 9am, and had been waiting for his goods to be cleared but had no hope to leave the place until the next day.
“We need a scanner so that we don’t have to unpack all the goods (as it is done on other borders), this would significantly reduce the time we spend here,” he added.
Hakuziyaremye noted that the scanner, which should automate the verification of goods, will be availed in the next two months.