Dar es Salaam: Tanzania is removing non-tariff barriers to trade with fellow East African Community member states as part of the country’s commitment to enhancing trade and strengthening competitiveness in the region. The new initiative will see transit trucks going through 15 digitally controlled checkpoints instead of the existing 54 that do so much to slow down the movement of cargo to and from the landlocked countries of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.
Beginning this August, Tanzania will introduce standardised checking procedures for trucks on the Dar es Salaam-Rusumo highway to Rwanda and Burundi.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Johansen Kahatano told The EastAfrican in Dar es Salaam last week that the reduction of checkpoints on the Dar-Rusumo is the first phase in an ongoing process to remove all barriers to trade with its neighbours.
“The government, in conjunction with Investment Climate Facility, has invested $1.8 million in the first phase of the project beginning this August,” he said.
Mr Kahatano added that the government has trained more than 275 police officers from eight regions along the Tanzania-Rwanda highway in the operation of the system. He said the second phase of the project will involve the highway from the main port of Dar es Salaam to Tunduma on the border with Zambia.
Truck owners will be required to feed all cargo and truck details into the new electronic system, and traffic officers equipped with special Blackberry mobile phones will be able to upload this information when they see a truck approaching.
The system does not allow police to inspect the truck and the cargo along the highway, once they have been inspected at the point of departure at the port of Dar es Salaam and Uhasibu weighbridge in Dar es Salaam.
The new initiative comes in the wake of complaints from EAC member countries that the 54 checkpoints on the road from Dar to the hinterland were excessive.
Tanzania is eliminating non-tariff barriers to streamline the implementation of the Customs Union and the Common Market. EAC Secretary-General Dr Richard Sezibera said non-tariff barriers are serious impediments to implementation of the Customs Union and the Common Market protocol but the partner states have started eliminating them.
Dr Sezibera said Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports are implementing the National Single Window System to redress delays that affect imports and exports through the Northern and Central Corridors.
Between three and four days were being lost at Dar es Salaam port, from seven to 10 days at Mombasa port, with importers incurring surcharges by shipping lines of $12.5 per day after four days of ship arrival, as well as Kenya Ports Authority charges of $20 for 20ft and $40 for 40ft containers after 15 days and a stripping levy of $75 per container.
According to Dr Sezibera, the partner states are implementing a Community Based Systems model to ensure information flow between ports and Customs along the corridors.
“They are also implementing one-stop documentation centres to speed up clearance of containerised cargo while they continue the modernisation process, including computerisation of procedures to ensure faster clearance,” he said.