The business community from Rwanda and Burundi, this week, petitioned Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), to have the Akanyaru border post open around the clock.
The traders were meeting a delegation of EALA MPs who visited the border post to witness the status of the EAC Common Market Protocol implementation.
The business operators from both countries said that they incur losses which mainly result from goods that go stale. Borders currently close at 6 PM.
The legislators’ visit, the first since the implementation of the protocol in July last year, was part of their five-day tour of major outlets connecting all the EAC member states.
“We purchase goods from Kampala, pass Gatuna border at any time but when we reach here past 6 PM, we are forced to wait until the following morning,” Jeremy Kabera said.
“This forces us to increase the price of the goods which affects our sales,” he added.
“I deal in perishable goods which need to be delivered on time. The 12 hour operation of the border and taxes affect my business,” Anastasia Ndayisenga, a Burundian national who exports Irish potatoes from Rwanda to Burundi, noted.
The legislators’ tour focuses on five major pillars of the protocol, which include free movement of labour, persons, capital and services. Others are the right to establishment and residence.
The Burundi business community commended Rwanda for the services offered in line with the protocol.
Fidel Mugarura, the coordinator of Rwanda Revenue Authority (RAA) in the Southern Province, observed that most traders from Burundi are ignorant of the protocol.
He explained that they don’t claim for refund of their VAT at the border which they pay while purchasing goods in Rwanda.
He said this after most traders said that they are taxed twice (Value Added Tax) in both countries.
According to the protocol, VAT is supposed to be paid in the State of business operation only.
Abdul Karim Harelimana, who headed the 15-person delegation, said that more awareness of the protocol needs to be pursued to remove the barriers to regional trade.
“We will follow up all these complaints to ensure that people know and enjoy their rights. We have an obligation as parliamentarians.
We will go back and exercise our obligations and rights to ably represent our people,” Harelimana said.
The meeting was also attended by officials from the Capital Market Authority (CMA), Immigration, customs, freight forwarders, clearing agents and Bureau of Standards from the two respective borders.