- As part of the East African political and economic integration, Rwanda and Tanzania have agreed to ease border passing on their main crossing point. Rwanda's first one-stop border post will now be established, with other East African borders already being upgraded.
The Rwanda-Tanzania bilateral agreement was signed today in Arusha. It foresees the establishment and implementation of a one-stop border post at Rusumo. The Rusumo border post is located on the Central Corridor, connecting the Congo Basin with the Tanzanian coast, and is important not only for Rwanda and Tanzania, but also for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and other neighbouring countries.
Signing for Tanzania, Infrastructure Minister Shukuru Jumanne Kawambwa said "signing of this agreement will inspire the work in progress towards establishing similar border posts within the East Africa Community (EAC) region." Tanzania would implement the agreement "as a matter of priority," he added.
Rwandan Minister of EAC Affairs Monique Mukaruliza said that the project would "enhance trade, through efficient movement of goods, persons and services between the two countries and definitely will go a long way in cutting short the long hours of waiting for clearance at the Rusumo border." Sharing infrastructure between the two countries "will reduce costs and encourage more competitive business," she added.
The establishment of the one-stop border post is part of regional efforts to create a well-functioning trade block in East Africa. Rwanda, together with Burundi, is a newcomer to the EAC, and the Kigali government is working rapidly to implement integration efforts already achieved in other EAC countries.
Within the EAC integration policy, several main border posts in East Africa have already been made more effective by the one-stop model. This includes the Mutukula border post between Uganda and Tanzania and several border crossings between Kenya and Uganda and between Kenya and Tanzania. Rwanda and Uganda are also planning to modernise their main border post at Katuna, making it one-stop and open 24 hours, it was announced earlier this month.
The EAC since 2009 has had a strategy to ease traffic at borders within the community. There exist plans for EAC legislation regulating border crossings in the region, obliging member states to establish one-stop border posts.
But as in so many cases, national legislation is still slowing down regional cooperation efforts. Examples are laws regulating the access of customs and immigration officers from other countries on the national territory and their working there.
As such, also today's Tanzanian-Rwandan agreement had to address issues about the hosting of border control officers in each other's territory with authority to execute border control functions using their own national laws; and sharing each other's existing border control infrastructure and facilities thereby enabling border control officers of each party to perform statutory border control functions outside their national territory.
It is expected that the two countries, or at least Rwanda, will have to amend its national legislation to allow for its agreements with Tanzania and Uganda to be carried out.
Further, before the opening of the one-stop border, officers from both sides have to receive proper training regarding legislation in the neighbour country and regarding their new rights and limits.
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