Uganda Borders Bliss

Opportunities for importers and exporters to save time and money will emerge once the One Stop Border Posts (OSBP) system is fully implemented at Malaba and Busia.

This will be bliss compared to the frustrations in the past when goods delayed sometimes for weeks before clearance by relevant officials.

During a recent on-site tour, Richard Kamajugo, the Commissioner for Customs at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) said, “We are doing a lot of sensitization so that traders can benefit from these developments. For example, these days, you do not need to wait until you have reached the border to clear and pay for your goods. Once you buy the goods, information is already uploaded in our systems and all other agencies have access to it.”

OSBP was developed in Japan. Basically, it involves having all the required formalities done in one control zone to stop the previous running about and long queues.

OSBP is part of the ongoing East African Trade and Transportation Facilitation project. TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) is the lead consultant on the project.

Kamajugo said, “Before you even start moving, you can pay your taxes and do the clearing so that when you reach at the border, you do not waste a lot of time here. But some traders still want to use the old methods which they are used to, which is always challenging for all of us. However, as time goes by, all traders will have no choice but to adjust to all these developments which I believe is for their best interest”

However he said considerable capacity building is needed to cope with the new system and which TMEA has been contracted to provide with development partner financial support.

According to officials at Busia, the number of traders being handled every day will triple after completion of the OSBP buildings and installed equipment.

Allen Asiimwe, the TMEA Country Director, said the OSBP will raise the capacity of agencies by providing them with the structure and software to improve on service delivery.

She said they are counting on the single window clearance service to help in implementing the working together of all agencies which will help the business people moving goods across borders easily and cheaply.

TMEA has also financed the construction of one stop border points in Mutukula, Mirama Hills and EleguNimule worth $10 million each and also upgraded the 37 kilometre Ntugamo-Mirama Hills road from murrum to tarmac.

However problems have cropped up. Some agencies are way behind in terms of installing and handling the new information technology.

According to Alex Dungu, the Busia Station Manager, some agencies have not reached the standard level putting their procedures online.

“We all must agree that URA is way ahead of us in most of their facilities. Almost all procedures in URA can be completed online. I cannot say the same thing for other agencies. Hence this may become a challenge in implementing the Single Custom’s window.”

He said the Ush15,898,641,294 (nearly $6 million) project is for now, 58% complete but facing other challenges.

These include delayed payments to the contractor (Cementers Limited) who may fail to meet the agreed on deadline which is the end of this year. Additional funds are also required for road works, a optic hub relocation, mobile scanner, a generator set, and voltage stabilizers.

Asiimwe said they are looking for more money to cater for a second accommodation block which will be shared by other agencies. She explanied that URA staff were given precedence, because their buildings were demolished first to make for the new structures.

Source : East African Business Week

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