Importers who use the Cyanika border have appealed to the Rwanda Revenue Authority to allow them declare their goods at the border post instead of having to drive all the way to Kigali. They say making return trips to Kigali takes them between two and four days.
Businesses say despite assurances that the revenue body was working to ease doing business, the time and resources wasted on making the trips to Kigali is a major bottleneck.
Apparently traders with imports worth over Rwf3 million are either compelled to drive to Kigali or seek special permission from RRA before they can clear their goods at the border.
Cyanika border links Rwanda and Uganda and is used by hundreds of traders on a daily basis.
“Clearing our merchandise in Kigali takes long and affects the time we deliver our goods to the market. Our wish is to see all goods that come through the border cleared here,” said a businesswoman who preferred anonymity.
“We have held several meetings on the issue but nothing tangible has come out. The only answer we get is that we should take our goods to Kigali,” she said.
The chairperson of the Private Sector Federation in Northern Province, Jean Damascene Munyankusi, said these businesses find it hard to clear from Kigali, but added that only goods that require an official RRA seal are taken to Kigali.
He, however, said that traders who operate through Cyanika border can, prior to importing their goods, write to RRA asking for permission to clear their goods at Cyanika.
Earlier last month when President Paul Kagame visited the Northern Province and met opinion leaders, the issue was brought to his attention.
The President urged the ministry for trade, RRA and other concerned institutions to work together and ensure that traders do not have to drive to Kigali to clear their commodities.
The Commissioner General of Rwanda Revenue Authority, Richard Tusabe, said the problem at Cyanika border is down to lack of modern facilities.
He said the government is working with the private sector to put up such facilities.
Tusabe, however, refuted claims that more businesses travel to Kigali to clear their goods, saying that the revenue body has been flexible enough to allow as much commodities cleared at the border.
“We try to make it as easy as possible and we sometimes send a team to the border to clear goods that are worth more than the set maximum value,” Tusabe said on Wednesday during a meeting with the business community in Musanze District.
He said in some cases, they have let the commodities be inspected from their final destination to ensure services are as smooth as possible.
Tusabe said the regional single customs territory will come in handy to solve such issues, with goods being declared the moment they go through Mombasa port.