It now takes only five minutes for travellers, especially those involved in cross-border trade to clear their goods at Nemba One-Stop Border Post located in Bugesera District bordering Burundi.
The reduction in time follows the construction of the OSBP where officials from both countries sit under the same roof to clear the travel documents for those entering the two countries.
The project funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) is among the regional initiatives aimed at fostering the East African Community integration.
AfDB injected $45 million to establish the Nemba One-Stop Border post including the construction of 20kms highway from Mayange Sector in Bugesera, that connects to Kirundo on the Burundian side. The project started in 2010.
Before the implementation of the project, immigration offices were distant from each other and this led to unnecessary delays at both borders since travellers had to clear on either side of the border.
Beneficiaries told Dr Donald Kaberuka who visited the area yesterday to assess the project’s implementation that it used to take them over two hours to clear at both borders.
Jean Paul Ntabareshyi, who owns a shop at the border said he can now cross and import goods from Bujumbura, Burundi any time.
“There was a lot of bureaucracy at the border. I used to take over two hours trying to clear my goods. I can now move freely because the immigration and customs officials are under the same roof,” he said
The trader who imports mineral water (Kinju Water and Aquavie Water) from Burundi believes the new project will help ease doing business between the two countries.
John Setumba, a Ugandan who was travelling from Burundi said it is important for all borders to emulate the project so as to facilitate free movement of people within the region.
“It would be better if all the borders in the region were operating like Nemba border post. There are some borders like Kagitumba, and Akanyaru where we normally spend over two hours to cross. We need more One-Stop Border Posts in our region to facilitate trade and develop our economies,” said Setumba who works with the EAC.
Rwanda uses the Nemba border to export goods to Burundi and it’s the second OSBP in operation after Ruhwa border post in Rusizi District that also links Rwanda to Burundi.
In an interview with The New Times, Kaberuka said the Bank had embarked on the establishment of such border posts to facilitate trade in the region.
“From UK to France, you do not have to see people lining up at immigration offices. We need to do the same on every African border post to facilitate free movement of people,” he said
He said this will help the continent to compete favourably with other continents in terms of trade.
“We are trying to promote this kind of infrastructure across the continent in order to cut down the cost of doing business,” he said.
He added that the Bank had constructed similar projects between Nigeria-Cameroon, Mali –Senegal, Tanzania–Kenya, Zimbabwe-Zambia as well as Botswana and Zambia.
However though the project has facilitated trade in the region, there are still some challenges especially on the Burundian side where the absence of officials of different agencies like Bureau of Standards, continues to create unnecessary delays at the border.
On Rwandan side, the agencies are available while on the Burundian side, there are challenges since some officials have to travel from the capital to come and clear movement of some goods.
Claver Bigirimana, the Burundian official in charge of immigration at the border said they are aware of the challenges, promising that they would be addressed.
According to the Commissioner General of Rwanda Revenue Authority, Richard Tusabe, OSBP needed more infrastructure especially accommodation facilities for the officials on duty since they have to travel long distances to come and work at the border.
He said the area also needed to be fenced to prevent people from entering illegally into both countries.
“We are aware of the challenges and we are trying to solve them. All new border posts that we are constructing will have the living quarters,” Dr Alex Nzahabwanimana, the State Minister for Transport said.
Some of the OSBP under construction include Kagitumba post and Rusumo, which is between Rwanda and Tanzania.