DATE 5th October, 2015

BY Sammy K. Wekesa-Public Communications Officer

An East African Community (EAC) Committee on Communication, Trade and Investments has raised concern over delayed construction of the Namanga One Stop Border Post(OSBP), Kenya, to the detriment of the EAC Treaty on cross border movement of goods, persons and services.

Whereas the treaty supports the establishment of OSBPs to cross border crossings, the delay in the completion of the project was one of the non-tariff barriers.

The concerns were raised when the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Committee on Communication, Trade and Investments toured the facility to assess the construction and implementation of OSBPs project within the EAC. The committee also toured other OSBPs of Lunga Lunga/Horo Horo(Kenya/Tanzania), and Holili/Taveta(Tanzania/Kenya).

The Chairman of the Committee Hon. Mbidde Mukasa Fred of EALA Uganda, said whereas the Partner States of the East African Community have embarked on the operationalisation of 15 One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) along their common entry points to reduce the time taken to clear goods and services by between 30-40%, any delay in the construction of the Border facility would impact negatively on the growth of trade and investments.

He was responding to complaints raised by the stakeholders, business community and the clearing agents that they had been inconvenienced by the delay of the completion of the project. Namanga Tanzania OSBP was completed a year ago, and they were only waiting for the Kenyan side to complete their facility to allow the sharing of staff.

A Chairman of the Naekana Sacco, a transport organization, Mzee Paul Matampash complained that they expected EAC Legislative Assembly to harmonize all laws and regulations regarding business and investments within the Partner States so as to enable them operate freely. He cited the speed governors imposed on Kenyan public sector vehicles, while in Tanzania, matatus and buses operated at any speed, saying such a move gave Tanzania a competitive edge against Kenya’ s transport operators.

According to Namanga Kenya Revenue Officer Station Manager Mr. Dishon Njuguna, the project was 80 per cent complete. The completion was delayed after the contractor declined to receive his payments minus the penalties after a breach of the contract. He was supposed to have completed the construction of the facility by December, 2013, but the contract terms were reviewed to June, 2015, attracting the penalties.

Mr. Njuguna further said some of the factors that contributed to the delay in the completion of the project was the slow process of compensating land owners, which took a long time to conclude.

He further said, once the construction was completed, instead of Agencies of adjoining states at each border clearing goods and services separately, they will be housed in one building to promote trade and investment within the EAC.

The Chairman announced that the construction of Lungalunga/Horo horo and Holili/Taveta OSBPs were complete, and that plans were under way to hand over to a facility Management and Trade Facilitation Committee. His Committee however, expressed concern over the lack of water in both facilities and asked Partner States to intervene and ensure the facilities ran without any challenges.

Amongst the border posts under construction to enhance service delivery include:-

Tanzania/Rwanda – Kabanga/Kobero

Kenya/Tanzania – Lungalunga/Horohoro

Kenya/Uganda – Busia/Busia

Kenya/Uganda – Malaba/Malaba

Tanzania/Uganda – Mutukula/Mutukula

Kenya/Tanzania – Isebania/Sirare

Kenya/Tanzania – Taveta/Holili

Rwanda/Tanzania – Rusumo/Rusumo

Rwanda/Tanzania –Gatuna/Katuna

Burundi/Rwanda – Gasenyi/Nemba

Rwanda/Uganda – Kagitumba/Mirama hills

Burundi/Tanzania – Kobero/Kabanga

Burundi/Rwanda – Ruhwa/Ruhwa

Kenya/Tanzania – Namanga/Namanga

A Senior Assistant Director with the State Department of East African Affairs, Mr. Juma Wakhungu said entry procedures at any border post will not begin until exit procedures/controls are completed in order to avoid conflicts over national jurisdiction. He added, where security equipment is available, cargo should be selected for scanning using Risk Management. “At all times”, all Agencies will have access to scanning and possible physical inspection.

Lungalunga KRA Station Master Mr. Okollo Kwach said the Single Customs Territory was introduced by Heads of State of the EAC Partner States to speed free circulation of goods and services in the EAC Region, avoid duplicating some procedures, and reduce non-tariff barriers and congestion at ports.

Tanzania’s Regional Revenue Officer Mr. Patrick   Kisaka said that parties agreed that respective officers shall jointly conduct physical inspections, undertake searches, take samples and cargoes and inspect means of transport, under the Kenya/Tanzania Bilateral Agreement.

Alternatively, Mr. Kisaka added, either party may rely on the inspection results of the other party, which results shall not be unreasonably withheld.

Other EALA members who accompanied Hon. Mukasa included Hon. Dr. James Ndahiro, Hon. Dr. James Nderakindo Kessy, Hon. Frederick Ngenze Buhoro, Hon. Joseph Ombassa Kiangoi, Hon. Nancy Abisai Hon. Sarah Bonaya, Hon. Yves Nsabimana, Hon. Bernard Mulengani, Hon. Emerence Bucumi and Hon. Straton Ndikuryayo.