A new report has indicated that Rwandan traders still face Non-tariff Barriers (NTBs) within the country’s borders – a challenge that is usually cited in other regional countries.
The report was released by the National Monitoring Committee (NMC) instituted to examine the existence NTBs in the country.
The research was conducted in Rwanda and Uganda, two of the five countries that make up the East African Community (EAC) – the others being Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania.
NTBs are quantitative restrictions and specific limitations that act as obstacles to trade, and which appear in the form of rules, regulations and laws that have a negative impact on trade.
Transporters complain of being stopped at Rugende, just outside Kigali, along Rwamagana road, for at least five hours before they are allowed to enter the capital, the report says.
The traders say this makes them lose valuable time, making their products reach the market late.
They also blame Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) customs officials at the Cyanika, Gatuna and Kagitumba borders. At these border posts, they say imports that are worth more than Rwf 1 million, can only be cleared in Kigali, or they need special permission from the Commissioner General of RRA, which traders find time consuming.
Theodore Murenzi, the Secretary General of Rwanda Truckers Association, who was among the researchers, said it was unrealistic for a trader who operates from Nyagatare, for example, to always first come to Kigali for permission.
“These NTBs are cumbersome but we are optimistic because there is political will to eliminate them,” said Murenzi.
Other domestic NTBs identified include lack of parking space for big trucks in Kigali, high parking fees at Shyorongi and Runda in Kamonyi parking lots, where the national bonded warehouses charges a daily fee of Rwf 5,900 per truck.
It was also discovered that, in Uganda, there are many police roadblocks and Uganda Revenue Authority check points with an element of corruption.
Recently, local traders complained about what they called prevalent corruption and other NTBs in other EAC partner states, which they said, have not only affected their businesses, but also continue to undermine the spirit of regional integration.
Kaliza Karuretwa, the chief trade negotiator in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said the government was planning to have bilateral negotiations between Uganda and Rwanda, to discuss all challenges affecting traders on both sides.
She disclosed that the two countries will meet in January to discuss the matter.
But Gerard Mukubu, the Director of Taxpayers Services at RRA, dismissed some claims, saying that traders who delay at the border are ignorant of the clearing procedures.
“They bring their goods to the borders without the necessary documentation yet we carry out many sensitization campaigns. Otherwise, those who come with all documents are cleared very quickly,” Mukubu said.
“The government has implemented many innovations to streamline the clearance of goods; amongst which are the introduction of electronic scanners at every border which makes clearing of goods easier”.
According to Bruno Rangira, the Director of Communication of KCC, heavy tracks are stopped at Rugende only during peak hours so that they do not disrupt traffic flow.
“Later, when the traffic has reduced, they are given free way, usually in the evenings and at night. But those heading to Magerwa bonded warehouse in Gikondo are not stopped at any one moment.”