Regional tax bodies, in partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), are set to roll-out a Joint Border Surveillance (JBS) team to curb smuggling at the border between Uganda and Rwanda
This was disclosed during Phase Two of the fourth regional joint coordinating meeting, a JICA-funded one-stop border post project that brought together representatives from the five revenue authorities of the East African Community (EAC) partner states.
The parties drew recommendations and discussed implementation of various activities to promote smooth and efficient customs clearance in the region with the aim of ensuring efficient trade facilitation.
The project, which began in 2003, targeted Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania – the three original members of EAC. During the launch of the second phase in 2009, which runs up to 2013, Burundi and Rwanda joined the initiative, soon after they became members of EAC bloc.
JICA Expert/Project Coordinator, Yoko Konishi, said the project had registered remarkable progress since its launch in 2003.
“The operations of Real Time Monitoring Systems (RTMSs) and Cargo Control System (CCS) at the border between Kenya and Tanzania (Namanga) is being implemented with One Stop Border Post (OSBP) ICT system in place,” Konishi noted.
The Commissioner of Investigations and Intelligence at the Burundian Revenue Authority, Gaudence Ndayizeye, said his country expects support from such meetings since their body is only one-year old.
He noted that since the launch of the OSBP, countries should develop constant surveillance to avoid smuggling.
To facilitate smooth customs clearance, the region is now adopting and promoting the OSBP model, capacity development of human resources in the region to enhance the skills and knowledge for customs officers and clearing and forwarding agents.
Both the border and water surveillance activities within the EAC are funded by JICA.
The meeting also aimed at analysing obstacles to trade facilitation including shortcomings in infrastructure, among other factors that hinder smooth economic operations.