Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How Tanzania and Kenya pact on OSBP poses challenges

ALTHOUGH the establishment of One Stop Border Post (OSBP) a joint investment programme between Tanzania and Kenya is picking up, facilitators of the system from both countries say that there are a number of challenges that need to be addressed in order to ensure a smooth operation.  A recent visit by a team of journalists from Tanzania and Kenya on Wednesday this week at OSBP of Holili (Tanzania) and Taveta (Kenya) respectively has discovered that there are a number of minor challenges that pose a slow pace to ensure quick clearance of goods and passengers at both sides of the border. Speaking during the visit, Aden Mwakalobo who is in-charge of revenue collection for TRA at Holili on Tanzania sides told journalists that, since the centre started operation in early this month there has been a workload at customs and goods clearing departments which requires enough workers. “We need to have full staff in order to keep abreast with the timeframe which is required for clearance as per the conditions set”, he said adding that the target set for service delivery has been reduced to ensure quick clearance of goods for customers. Without disclosing a list of shortage of staff he has, however he said that the operational activities at both border post centres has been electronically modified with computer aiding systems that requires modern technical knowhow in order to ease movements of goods across the border. However, he added that staffs have to work for not more than 12 hours to clear goods on both sides of the border and the rule is observed within a legal framework under which the agreement operate in accordance with East Africa Management Act. 

A woman from Tanzania prepares to cross trhe border from Tanzania going to Kenya side through Holili border post on her petty business mission.

The Act stipulates that the timeframe for clearing all goods on transit across the border should not be cleared more than the set time, unless otherwise some changes are introduced. The second officer In-charge of immigration at Holili border post Edwin Mwasota highlighted some of the challenges facing his unit at the centre and noted that, “most Kenyan traders tend to show their national identification cards while crossing the border instead of passports. However, he said that this is a system which Kenyans are using while crossing the border going to Uganda through Bussia on western part of Kenya. In view of this have to take extra time to enlighten such passengers on the use of temporary passports and not being in possession of national IDs which is not allowed as per the Tanzania’s Immigration Act. Earlier, highlighting major problems facing both centres at Taveta on the Kenyan side, the Communication Manager of the Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) Nelson Karanja said that, both countries have a great task lying ahead of them and this is to educate their people about the newly established OSBP facility. 

A bodaboda rider crossing te border to Kenyan side with a passenger at Holili border post.

He said that most citizens of the two countries are not aware of the newly established systems that operate at their borders, and in view of this stakeholders have to undergo training for the local people to avoid further inconveniences when the needy cross the border on various purposes. The visiting media personnel took an orientation tour of 8 hours of both the-State-of-the-art border post buildings which strategically have been constructed adjacent to each other by help of TMEA at a total cost of $ 14.3 million. TMEA also provides technical support to facilitate implementation of integrated border management system jointly with border agencies. While walking around, journalists witnessed how the activities have been integrated and installed for coordination and implementing one stop border post procedures by help of sophisticated installed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) networks, hardware, furniture and equipment. Daniel Muturi, a Programme Manager for Integrated Boarder Management (IBM) showed media how the offices are used by officials from both sides of the country. Both buildings consists of double offices for officials from Tanzania, for example, the Immigration or TRA officers and counterparts -Kenya Immigration and KRA, customs inspection sheds and warehouse, clearing and forwarding offices. He said that OSBPs are designed to reduce time spent in clearing transporters from two hours to less than 40 minutes. Judging from the scene, it’s not only trucks that will benefit from the OSBP but also cross border traders, many of whom are women, make their living on a daily basis selling things like rice or eggs. 

Aden Mwakalobo (Fourth from left)  who is in-charge of revenue collection for TRA at Holili on Tanzania sides speaking to journalists seated on the right hand side of various challenges facing his centre at a conference hall at Holili border post on Tanzania side.

told journalists“Things seem to be getting better here,” said Alexander Lyimo resident of Himo who was walking to the other side of the border. “I am old now but my children will be better off as more development comes to us. This is really impressive. Journalists witnessed small traders with goods worth less than $500 are treated differently. They do not need to pay to use a clearing agent. Instead Customs staff fill out the form for them (at no charge) and they pay a small amount of duty.”  This legitimate payment also prevents harassment by border officials – something they have been accused of in the past. In addition, the small traders are being educated in the benefits of the East Africa Community and how it can help their businesses to grow. Truck owner and exporter, Hassan Shamir, already receiving the benefits of the pilot OSBP at Taveta and Holili said that he could now be cleared within 9 hours and allowed to go, unlike before whereby he has to spend a night and some hours while waiting for his goods to be cleared. East African Legislative Assembly, which met in Kigali, Rwanda on April 23 2013 passed the One Stop Border Posts Bill, 2012, paving way for it to become Community Law if assented to by the EAC Heads of State. The object of the Bill, initiated by the EAC Council of Ministers, is to provide for the establishment of One Stop Border Posts (OSBP) in the Community in order to facilitate trade through the efficient movement of goods and people within the Community. Under the arrangement, Partner States shall implement one stop border processing arrangements by establishing and designating control zones at the respective border posts.

No comments: