The East African Community (EAC) has officially launched the first One Stop Border Post (OSBP) at Holili/Taveta towns along the Kenya-Tanzania border.
The facility was built at the cost of approximately Ksh1.2 billion (US$12 million) from TradeMark East Africa (TMEA).
The project was launched jointly by Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, East African, Regional and International Cooperation Amb Dr Augustine Mahiga, and Kenya’s Labour and East African Affairs Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie on Saturday according to a statement from the EAC .
Dr Mahiga said the One Stop Border Post will ease the movement of people from the two Partner States. “It’s a demonstration of the trust between the two countries and that the One People, One Destiny dream is slowly being realised through various East Africa Community initiatives,” said Dr Mahiga.
The Minister reaffirmed Tanzania’s commitment to the integration process by assenting to the OSBP Bill and concluding agreements for Management of OSBPs with all Partner States.
Dr Mahiga said the OSBP is set to increase efficiency by reducing time and transport costs incurred by businesses, farmers and transporters while crossing from one Partner State to the other.
The Minister further said that the Arusha-Holili/Taveta-Voi road which was currently under construction would boost cross border trade and foster good neighbourliness between Kenya and Tanzania, adding that the two countries had demonstrated the political goodwill to implement EAC initiatives.
Dr Mahiga said the next step was capacity building in the management of OSBPs to ensure smooth operation and better service delivery.
In her remarks, Ms Kandie said that in addition to facilitating farmers and business persons from Northern Tanzania to access the Kenyan market, the Holili/Taveta OSBP will also enhance mutual interactions, create synergy and unity of purpose.
“I am pleased to appraise the substantial progress already recorded in the construction of the Taveta-Mwatate-Voi road section. Already, 75 per cent of the road is complete and opened for use. It is anticipated that by the end of this year, the outstanding works on that section will be complete and the people of Taveta and Northern Tanzania for the first time will travel to and from Mombasa and other parts of Kenya with ease,” said Ms Kandie, adding that the road would unlock the vast potential of the Taita-Taveta/Kilimanjaro region.
CS Kandie noted that Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) remained a big challenge on the economic front and should be addressed by all Partner States as a matter of urgency.
“NTBs constitute prolonged formalities, multiplicity of institutions, limited capacity at entry points, technical requirements and travel restrictions through convoys and time of day among others. These are implemented through protectionist tendencies among trading blocs commonly referred to as ‘Behind the border measures’.
“The challenge that comes with the elimination of NTBs is their mutative nature. Their impact on intra-EAC trade flows is serious and real. They stifle trade; depress returns on investment, and add extra costs to goods traded across our borders,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
She emphasized Kenya’s commitment to continue working with other Partner States to strengthen regional mechanisms geared towards eliminating NTBs with a view of making the Community more competitive and promoting intra-regional trade.
EAC Secretary General Amb Dr Richard Sezibera, disclosed that the Holili/Taveta OSBP is the first among eight on the borders of the EAC Partner States that have been completed and are awaiting to be commissioned.
Dr Sezibera said the EAC realised that the economies of Partner States were interdependent, adding that the best approach was to work together to reduce the costs of doing business. “This OSBP will boost trade by facilitating faster clearance of cargo, realize significant reduction in transport costs and ensure effective border control mechanisms are put in place,” said the Secretary General.
Mr. Theo Lyimo, the Director OSBPs at TMEA, thanked their financiers especially – DFID, Canada, USAID and the World Bank for supporting the project.
“The One Stop Border Posts at Holili/Taveta are the first to be operationalised among the 15 OSBPs in East Africa and South Sudan through TradeMark East Africa’s funding. We have invested about (Ksh11.7 billion) US$117 million in OSBPs and One Access Road, and what is exciting about this is that we expect a return of (Ksh3,000) $30 for every dollar invested,” said Lyimo.
Also present at the function was the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Dr Enos Bukuku and heads of diplomatic missions from the EAC Partner States.