Rusumo border registers increase trading volume
Arusha. A unified customs clearance facility at Rusumo on the Tanzania-Rwanda border has seen an increase in the volume of traded goods even at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020/21.
The One Stop Border Post (OSBP) operated by the two countries saw goods worth 51.4 billion shillings flow out of Tanzania into Rwanda and DR Congo during the period. In 2015/16, goods in transit across the border line to the two neighbors were worth some 34.5 million shillings, according to a recent assessment by regional lawmakers.
The value of the volume of goods entering Tanzania from Rwanda and DR Congo through the shared border facility jumped to 9.8 billion shillings for 2020/21 from 5.6 billion shillings in 2015/16.
Rising trade statistics are contained in an assessment report by the Communication, Trade and Investment Committee of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) after a recent site visit. .
Rusumo Unified OSBP, a one-stop border post, was launched in April 2016 by the Heads of State of Tanzania and Rwanda and commissioned later the same year.
The facility is one of more than a dozen already in operation across the region at key border points of partner states in the East African Community (EAC). They were put in place to facilitate the cross-border movement of people and goods and thus stimulate cross-border trade for the seven members of the economic bloc.
Traffic through the Rusumo OSBP, in particular, has been badly affected by the pandemic, as Rwanda – unlike Tanzania – closed its borders to inbound traffic for a time in 2020/21.
However, the lifting of travel restrictions, according to the report, saw the number of trucks allowed to enter Tanzania daily drop from 90 to 285 and travelers to 1,700 from 500.
Truck clearance time has been reduced to 30 minutes “and just one minute for travelers not carrying luggage,” says a copy of the report seen by The Citizen.
While customs clearance fees have been reduced to facilitate the free movement of traders with certificates of conformity, small traders are facilitated by a simplified border clearance procedure. On the Rwandan side, clearance time for a truck was reduced from four hours to just 30 minutes after the shared border post became operational.
In a normal situation, the OSBP authorizes daily cross-border movements of 1,200 travellers, 320 inbound trucks and 250 outbound trucks (to Tanzania).
However, lawmakers pointed to a host of challenges facing the border facility on both sides of the Kagera River which forms the border between Tanzania and Rwanda.
These include differences in tax rates and other charges that are not yet harmonized under the EAC, causing confusion among traders. This happens on both sides of the border.
The law on transit fees for foreign vehicles through the two countries has also not been harmonized, which again has an impact on the free cross-border movement of goods and people.
While Rwanda provides 14 days free with possible extension at a cost of $30 per 30 days, Tanzania provides only seven days free and charges $20 per 30 days for any extension of stay.