There are more non-tariff barriers in Kenya and Uganda hindering free movement of goods from Mombasa port to the region, a new survey has revealed.
The survey conducted by Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA), indicates that despite the drastic reduction of barriers in countries like Rwanda and Burundi, transporters still face significant challenges on Ugandan and Kenyan roads.
The survey, carried out between September 2013 and February 2014, was done by use of Global Positioning system (GPS), whereby truck drivers were given GPS kits and questionnaires.
GPS automatically sends information to the EAC secretariat whenever a truck is stopped on the way.
The findings show that Kenya recorded the highest truck-stops with 1,264 stops while Uganda had 362.
In Rwanda, drivers were stopped six times, while Burundi and DRC recorded only four stops each and South Sudan only two.
The report was released by the NCTTCA Council of Ministers at the closure of a meeting in Kigali on Friday.
The meeting was convened to discuss the performance of the Northern Corridor and how best to improve the transportation of goods on the route.
The report shows that most stops occurred at weighbridges with 14.07 per cent followed by personal reasons at 12.9 per cent.
The findings further indicate that there is no sufficient evidence to show reduction in weighbridges since the difference is only one per cent.
However, the police check points generally reduced from 15 per cent in a previous survey to 13 .6 per cent currently.
In Kenya, drivers were delayed due to various reasons, including police checks, border procedures, weighbridges, vehicle breakdown, customs check as well as personal reasons.
In Uganda, most stops are due to weighbridges, and border post procedures, while in Rwanda most stops were attributed to inland terminal procedures and customs check points.
Hussein Mugarura, a truck driver along the Northern Corridor in an interview, said more advocacy and political will was needed from the top leadership to ensure the removal of all the unnecessary barriers that lead to delays.
“It’s true the days from Mombasa to Kigali have reduced from three weeks to six days but there are still more challenges especially in Kenya and Uganda,” he said.
The Kenyan High Commissioner to Rwanda, Amb. John Mwangemi, said his government will continue working closely with all the stakeholders to ensure the elimination of all the existing barriers to trade.
He, however, said that the existing bottlenecks needed joint efforts from all the partner states.
The report further indicates that transportation charges are still high due to unnecessary delays along the Corridor.
Transporting a container from Kigali to Mombasa costs $4200 (Rwf2.8 million) while importing a container over the same distance requires $4800 (Rwf3.2 million).
Exporting and importing a container to Bujumbura from Kigali costs $3800, while exporting a container cargo from Kigali to Kampala costs $3500 and importing the same costs $4,100
Over 50 per cent of Rwanda’s imports and exports pass through the Northern Corridor while 98 per cent of Ugandan goods also go through the same highway to Mombasa port.
Kwong Danhier Gatluak, the South Sudan minister for transport, roads and bridges, said his country had benefited much since joining the Northern Corridor initiative recently.
“The cargo trucks from Mombasa port used to take one month to reach Juba but it has since reduced to two weeks,” he said.
The issue of trade barriers doesn’t affect only the transporters but also end consumers, especially when the traders hike the prices in an effort to cover-up the transportation costs.
Dr Alex Nzahabwanimana, Rwanda’s State Minister for Transport, called for political will among the member states to remove all the barriers which he said would help boost trade across the region.