Traders and clearing agents have welcomed the initiative by Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and other government agencies to implement 24-hour operations at Rusumo on the Rwanda-Tanzania border. The facility will also work as one stop border post (OSBP), according to RRA officials.
The local business community says the move will greatly boost cross-border trade and reduce transit time.
Raphael Tugirumuremyi, the RRA Commissioner of customs, said the border will effective October 2 start 24-hour operations, adding that the move was agreed on by Heads of States of Rwanda and Tanzania during official opening of the facility last year.
“We want to facilitate easy movement of people, goods and services hence enhancing cross-border trade in the region. This will also help to reduce transit costs incurred in cross-border movement by combining the activities of both countries’ border organisations and agencies,” Tugirumuremyi said.
Stakeholder speak out
According to Fred Seka, the chairman of the Association of Clearing and Freight Forwarders in Rwanda, the OSBP at Rusumo will play a big role in improving the flow of goods and people along the Central Corridor of the East Africa region.
“We are therefore thrilled to have the post operate none stop.
This could translate into increased trade volumes in economic terms,” he added.
Rusumo is one of the region’s frontiers, connecting the East African Community, particularly the land-locked members of bloc, to its two gateways to the rest of the world through the Port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Kenya’s Mombasa port.
For landlocked EAC states, like Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi, high cost of transport remains one of the leading bottlenecks to trade, officials said.
However, through improved infrastructure like the Rusumo bridge, there is hope that the cost will significantly reduce to as much as 28 per cent, enabling regional economies to save over $1.8 billion per annum.
Moses Kalisa said the introduction of the 24-hour one-stop border post will greatly ease the movement of people and goods between the two countries and boost cross-border trade.
For transporters, reducing the time heavy trucks spend at border when clearing, and increasing the tonnage ceiling, remains top priority.
According to Abdoul Ndarubogoye, the vice-president of the Rwanda Transporters Association, any move to help reduce this transit and clearing time is a great relief to truckers and will further facilitate the ease of doing business along the Central Corridor region.
Improvements along the route could significantly enhance trade relations between Rwanda and Tanzania.
The route is also important for Rwanda given the fact that the country’s total trade with Tanzania is at 12 per cent and is still going up.
Statistics indicate that 70 per cent of the country’s cargo is handled through Dar es Salaam.
However, the business community complains about inefficiency at the port. So they will welcome any improvement along the corridor toward achieving a conducive business environment as well as easing the cost of doing business on the corridor, according to experts.