Malaba gets one-stop border post
- Written by ALI TWAHA
The clearance of cargo along the Uganda-Kenya Malaba border post is expected to be faster, relieving that point of the traffic congestion that had become a headache, after the opening of the one-stop-border post [OSBP].
Under the new arrangement, authorities on both sides of the border will simultaneously speed up clearance of cargo. During the launch of the border post recently, Uganda Revenue Authority [URA] officials said that all cargo coming from Kenyan would only stop at the Ugandan side for joint inspection.
Clearance of trucks carrying goods across the border is anticipated to take four hours or less compared to the two days it usually took. The construction of the border post cost Shs 15bn, with proceeds coming from government and the World Bank. Speaking during the handover ceremony of the OSBP to URA, Richard Kamajugo, the commissioner customs department at URA, said traders were facing delays at the border.
“We used to occasionally have those build-ups of traffic and trucks along the roads because the facilities were chocked. With improved facilities now, and a better working environment within one compound, it takes much less time to do what would take you much longer,” Kamajugo said.
He added: “We implemented the 24-hour operation about four years ago but the clearance during the night was limited because of the darkness and rising security issues.
So, with better lighting, we will have more transactions done during the night, which then eases the movement of the trucks.”
According to Kamajugo, 25 per cent of the trucks are now cleared at night between midnight and 6am. He said the only complaint so far had been lack of enough lighting.
The OSBP is housing a number of offices which include the Uganda National Bureau of Standards [UNBS], the National Drug Authority, and Police, among others.
However, Benon Kajuna, the commissioner policy and planning in the ministry of Works and Transport, said without the construction of the access road, the OSBP might fall short of its goals.
“These facilities cannot operate without a road network. The road component is part of the OSBP design but was omitted during implementation due to limited funds.”
According to Kajuna, the construction of the access road is estimated at Shs 11 billion for Malaba and Shs 4bn for Busia OSBP. Construction of a new bridge is already underway to make the facility more efficient. Under the new plan, pedestrians will be accorded a separate access point to the OSBP.
The setting up of the one-stop check point comes against the backdrop of the passing of the OSBP bill 2012, which made it mandatory for all member states of East Africa Community to construct a one-stop border post to support the flow of trade. The OSBP has also been extended to the railway sector.
Alex Okello, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Works and Transport, cautioned: “I would urge the people who are going to use it [the facility], to use it properly and those who are concerned with maintaining it should maintain it properly.”