Rwanda and Burudi are to open-up a multi-million, one-stop border post this month to handle the growing movement of people and goods between the two countries.
Eugene Torero, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) deputy commissioner general said the development is part of the reforms to ease doing cross border trade.
“The administration building at Nemba border post jointly built by the Rwanda and Burundi government is ready. Customs, security and immigration officials of both countries (Rwanda and Burundi) will soon occupy the building,” he said.
Though Nemba is has not been a busy entry and exit point, truck drivers complain that they waste a lot of time having their passports processed by the two immigration departments at Akanyaru. While passengers between the two countries say they spend longer time in queues at borders.
Doing Business 2008 — World Bank and International Finance Corporation report, ranked Rwanda 150 out of 178 countries reviewed in the report. The rankings present indicators of the time and cost of meeting government requirements to business start-up, operation, trade, taxation, and closure.
But with the reforms, Rwanda is optimistic the rakings may improve.
“If all the reforms suggested by government departments are implemented we shall definitely improve,” said Torero.
He also revealed that Rwanda and Uganda are in bilateral talks to ease clearing goods and movement of people between the two countries.
The talks may soon see customs, immigration and security officials from Rwanda and Uganda jointly clearing.
“If you have been spending 2 hours clearing at Gatuna (Rwanda) and Katuna (Uganda) border then the time will be halved,” Torero is optimistic.
RRA and ministry of infrastructure have started negotiations with Uganda on establishing a one border concept. According to Torero, a draft bilateral agreement document is ready and is being considered by authorities.
At regional level, the East African Revenue Authorities (EARA) developed an electronic exchange of information system that will allow advance cargo information. Rwanda and Uganda may launch theirs in March.
“The systems are being configured,” Torero said. Uganda Revenue Authority and Kenya Revenue Authority are already using the RADDEX system.
Among other reforms, RRA is pushing for having a cargo tracking system. “It is being studied and will also facilitate cross border trade,” Torero said.
To ease congestion in banks and heavy traffic at borders, RRA is encouraging importers to start pre-arrival clearance.
Pre-arrival clearance has been supplemented by the introduction of pre-payment.
“Cargo clearance can begin without waiting for notice of arrival (Avis d’ Arrive),” Torero advised. The immigration department and RRA Rwanda also plan to open 24-hours services at entry points.
“This requires willingness from all stakeholders. It is a venture worth exploiting and requires careful planning as it requires more work force to enable shifts,” he said.