Barriers at border posts hinder trade in Africa

18 Nov, 2016 - 00:11 0 Views

The Herald

Business Reporter—

AFRICAN governments should eliminate barriers which are hindering efficient trade at border posts, a senior customs official has said. Barriers at most African border posts, which are blamed for slowing down and frustrating free and efficient movement of goods and people, include cumbersome border systems.Also, duplication of processes among border posts is another barrier that is expected to be eliminated through establishment of One Stop Border Post.

Customs administrations are faced with a wide array of challenges in facilitating smooth trade and travel.

Some of the challenges are a result of the multiplicity of institutions at ports of entry and exit, which prolong traders and travellers’ clearance times at these ports.

The establishment of single window systems, coupled with One Stop Border Posts, is expected to go a long way in promoting efficiency and reducing time and transport costs for traders.

The One Stop Border Post concept has gathered momentum with the African Union Sub-Committee of Directors General of Customs focusing on the idea at their 8th Ordinary Meeting that ends today.

The theme for the continent’s heads of customs was: From Barriers to Bridges —Implementing One Stop Border Posts for Improved Trade Facilitation.

The theme placed emphasis on the removal of barriers, borders and boundaries to form bridges that connect countries.

As such, while addressing the official opening of the sub-committee session, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority’s acting commissioner general, Happias Kuzvinzwa, said more work needs to be done to ensure smooth flow of trade.

“The building of these bridges eases border congestion, ensures smooth movement of both human and vehicle traffic across borders and in turn increases trade relations between nations.

“What it, therefore, calls for are efficient systems underpinned by unity of purpose and constant dialogue to resolve impediments to trade and travel that the physical borders and boundaries of countries present,” Mr Kuzvinzwa said.

Mr Kuzvinzwa, who took over the chairmanship of the African Union Sub-Committee of Directors General of Customs, also said the meeting sought to explore frontiers between countries could be turned into bridges for enhanced efficiency in facilitating trade and travel.

He said One Stop Border Post is no longer a concept but “a reality”.

Notable successes of One Stop Border Post have been recorded at Chirundu, the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia established in 2009.

Under this arrangement, traffic going up north to Zambia and beyond does not stop for processing on the Zimbabwean side of the border.

The traffic only stops once on the Zambian side where both Customs and Immigration formalities are processed at the same time by both the Zambian and Zimbabwean Authorities working side by side.

The same applies to south-bound traffic which stops once on the Zimbabwean side and the same processes happen.

“The One Stop Border Post has decongested Chirundu while making it cost effective for the transacting public to clear their goods through this port of entry and exit.

An independent study on Chirundu showed that before implementation of the One Stop Border Post average claims of trucks per day was 260 and this increased to 600 trucks per day after the implementation of the One Stop Border Post.

Furthermore, commercial trucks would take an average of three days at the border but currently takes an average of only three hours.

“Before implementation of the One Stop Border Post 380 declarations were processed per day. Today an average of 700 declarations are being processed. Twelve passenger buses were being cleared, today 25 passenger buses are being cleared at Chirundu. Clearance times for buses have been reduced by half and private vehicles now take an average of 30-40 minutes compared to one hour before the One Stop Border Post. This is not a Zimra finding. It points to that One Stop Border Post is no longer a concept but a reality,” said Mr Kuzvinzwa.

“The Chirundu One Stop Border Post has also enhanced information sharing between Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and Zambia Revenue Authority.

However, Mr Kuzvinzwa said some challenges have been faced mainly to do with infrastructure which was not constructed with the One Stop Border Post in mind. There is, therefore, need for continuous modifications to accommodate all stakeholders. Parking is also an issue we are attending to on both sides of the border.

“It is quite encouraging to note that efforts are also underway to introduce one stop border posts at other ports of entry and exit, notably Beitbridge, which is the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa and accounts for the largest volume of both human and vehicular traffic passing between the two countries,” he said.

The East African Community launched a One Stop Border Post in February this year at Taveta/Holili border points on the Kenya/Tanzania border.

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