Though the East African Common Market Protocol came into force last year with the aim of boosting the regional economic integration, Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs) along the Central Corridor still impede economic growth in the region.
This was disclosed by Abdul Ndarubogoye, the vice chairman Rwandan Transporters’ Association, during an interview on the sidelines of a consultative workshop on effective utilisation of the corridor
The Central Corridor connects the east African hinterland to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam..
“NTBs still exist. As transporters, corruption on roads by police is the main challenge we normally face. If you’re transporting your cargo from Dare-salaam to Rwanda, you will be stopped on roadblocks over fifty times and you have to pay money to the police officers,” he noted.
Ndarubogoye noted that unless serious action is taken along this corridor, economic integration with will not be realised.
“What is needed is to understand that we contribute a lot towards the economic growth of the region and officials should look at us as stakeholders…otherwise the common market will remain on paper,” Ndarubogoye said.
Rukia Shamte, the Executive Secretary of central corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency (TTFA) noted that they are working closely with the stakeholders to eliminate the barriers.
“Removing of NTBs on the Central Corridor is one of our major concerns. There have been a number of studies through which we discovered these NTBs but we are now developing a way of rationalising them,” she said.
State Minister in charge of Transport, Dr Alexis Nzahabwanimana, said that regional countries need to be committed to fight the barriers.
“The situation in the East African region is not encouraging and despite the efforts and resources being committed to improve the infrastructure, especially the road network, transportation costs remain high,” he said.
“This is because the region is weighed down by numerous non-tariff barriers. However, most if not all, can be eliminated if we put more commitment and embrace change in the way we manage our transport sector.
The Central Corridor is shared by countries like Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda Uganda and D.R Congo.
The protocol seeks to allow free movement of people, goods, services, capital and labour within the region, a move that is expected to boost economic growth in the five member states.