Nairobi: Kenya said privatization of some of the weighbridges along the busy transport corridor from the Mombasa Port to the shared border with Uganda has increased efficiency and reduced corruption. The Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA) has contracted private companies to manage three weighbridges following complaints from transporters and neighboring countries like Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo that the weighbridges managed by government officials were delaying transport of goods and were avenues for corruption.
The delay and bribing slowed the pace of doing business with goods arriving late than planned and the cost of transporting them rising, forcing the owners to pass that cost to the consumers.
"Some of the challenges experienced before the privatization of these three weighbridges, like the interference with the calibration of weighbridges and the time it takes to weigh a truck have increased," said Barrack Ndegwa, the Integration Secretary at the Ministry of East African Community.
He told a forum in Nairobi on Thursday that the amount of money recovered for those flouting the rules has also increased, indicating the effectiveness enforcement.
Kenya has a total of 13 stationary weighbridges and several mobile ones. Sometimes, trucks have had to take more than two days on the queue waiting to be weighed.
Weighbridges are essentially used to weigh predominantly trucks carrying export goods so that they do not exceed the maximum allowed weight and damage the roads.
But their inefficiency and corruption by officials manning them has elevated them to non-tariff barrier and Kenya has been under pressure from her East African partners to eradicate the weighbridges or find another way of weighing the trucks without causing unnecessary delays.
EAC members have also complained of Police road blocks on the Kenyan side that they said cause unnecessary delays and are also used as corruption seeking opportunities.
Kenya Minister for East Africa Cooperation Musa Sirma said the Police road blocks will now be reduced from 58 to five, terming the road blocks as corruption points for police officers.
A report released by Rwanda Private Sector Federation in 2010 showed that corruption along the northern corridor takes place at three levels namely, the police roadblock, the weighbridges and at the border gates.
The report found out that total petty bribery along the route is 193 U.S. dollars on the Ugandan side and 703 dollars on Kenyan side totalling to 897 dollars. This cost is often passed to the consumer.
Earlier this month, the Kenya government announced that weighbridges and road blocks along the main highways especially those serving landlocked neighboring countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo will relocated to ports of entry while others will be completely removed or drastically reduced by December this year.
The plan will however be slowed until time that all vehicles can be captured by the weighbridges especially those that are not destined for the export market.
"Alternatively, we may follow the recommendations of a report commissioned by the EAC that weighbridges should be stationed 500 kilometres apart," said Ndegwa.
Related article: Rwanda and Uganda government officials meet over trade barriers
KIGALI (Xinhua) -- A delegation of Uganda government officials Monday met their counterparts in Kigali Rwanda to discuss ways of eliminating trade barriers between the two countries.
"We need to collaborate bilaterally as sister countries to remove the trade barriers for the benefit of our countries" Kassim Omar, a Ugandan official revealed to Xinhua in Rwanda .
"It's horrible why would trucks be weighed several times within the same country. I was a truck driver, I have experienced this in Kenya and Uganda , we should implement what we agreed instead of sitting and enjoying them in these meeting," he adds.
The permanent secretary in the ministry of trade and industry of Rwanda , Emanuel Hategeka described the trade barriers as challenges that could hinder the regional integration.
"If we do not align our trade practices with the EAC Treaty and the Protocols, we stand the danger of losing the benefits of integration." He asserted.
"The traditional problems of inefficient port procedures, cumbersome customs and other administrative requirements, police checks at road blocks, and multiple weighing of trucks still remain. We should take this assessment as a basis for a deep examination of the contribution we can make to improve the situation," he said.
Traders in two countries face different barriers including corruption, police roadblocks and weighbridges which economically hamper their businesses in the region. Other challenges hampering the regional business communities are poor infrastructures, corruption among the officials.