Debate on One Border Post Bill opens

Members of the East African Legislative Assembly yesterday started debating the Bill establishing single management of border posts within EAC partner states.
EALA members during the opening session in Kigali. The New Times/ John Mbanda.
EALA members during the opening session in Kigali. The New Times/ John Mbanda.

Members of the East African Legislative Assembly yesterday started debating the Bill establishing single management of border posts within EAC partner states.

The One-Stop-Border Post Bill will provide the legal framework for the operation of border posts of two partner states under one roof, meaning they would become more efficient as Customs and Immigration checks.

The border operations will be conducted in a common control zone that would eliminate the current practice that involves checks on both sides of a border between two partner states.

“We have to pass this bill by the end of these sessions and then we shall forward it to the Council of Ministers before it is submitted to the Heads of State Summit for approval,” Dan Kidega, the chairman of the Communication, Trade and Investment committee that discusses the bill said.

The sessions will end next week.

During the committee session, the lawmakers agreed to include an article in the bill that obliges the community to construct structures with facilities for people with disabilities at the border posts, as proposed by MP Dr James Ndahiro.

He said sometimes disabled people are left to suffer while crossing the borders which he said was against the international laws.

“Sometimes a person moving in a wheelchair is not facilitated and we need to include the clause in the bill to assist people with disabilities,” he said.

People with disabilities

The chairperson of the Council of Ministers, Shem Bageine, said it was imperative to give equal opportunities for people with disabilities since they are part of the integration process.

Article 21 of the Bill stipulates that partner states will harmonise their procedures documents, mandatory pre-clearance of specified local importation and transit goods and entrenchment of existing arrangements for people living around the common border.

Some of the state agencies normally based at border posts include immigration, revenue authorities, police, and standards agencies, among others.

The agencies currently operate independently thereby causing delays at the borders as traders have to pass through all of them to process documents.

Recent statistics show that it takes a trader importing goods from the EAC member countries an average of 30 minutes to process documents, at the Gatuna border post.

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