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Partners reduce barriers

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KIGALI, RWANDA - Barriers to efficient flow of goods and people from Tanzania’s sea
port of Dar es salaam to landlocked nations of Rwanda, Burundi and DRCongo are to be reduced to spur trade through the route.
The route also known as the Central Corridor became  operational since 2008 after the stakeholder nations—Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo— inked a binding agreement in 2006.
Although the agreement intends to eliminate the Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs) or a mix of physical and non-physical trade predators, transporters say NTBs have increased.
These barriers range from numerous traffic police roadblocks, weighbridges and lengthy customs procedures, which lead to delayed drop-off of goods and people and extra costs arising from bribery.
“We’re discussing with governments on how we can rationalise these blocks and have only a few remaining where all the regulatory authorities that need to check trucks on the way can be stationed,”the Executive Secretary of the Central Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency (TTFA) based in Tanzania Ms. Rukia Shamte said in an interview in Kigali last week. She told East African Business Week that they are planning three stations that would include traffic police, customs and revenue authority checkpoints. She said the move could come in force  by end of the year with the help of TradeMark East Africa, a multi-donor funded agency that aims at facilitating trade integration in the region.
Reducing trader barriers could increase efficiency in delivery of goods and people and this would reduce the cost of doing business for importers, exporters and transporters along the corridor.
Mr Vincent Safari, the Director of Trade Policy and Advocacy at Rwanda’s private sector umbrella organisation reports that weighbridges along the corridor have increased to eight in 2010 from five in 2008.
“Almost four people have to check and deliver clearance before a truck is released and this takes about one hour,” Mr. Safari said during the Central Corridor stakeholder meeting in Kigali last week. He said last year, an additional two police roadblocks were added on the route bringing the total number to 30 from 28 in 2008.
“It is clear that there is no progress in reducing the police road blocks along the Central Corridor.” Unfortunately, these checkpoints have turned into virtual cash points because of bribery, he added. He said police expect a bribe to clear trucks even when a truck has all the necessary documents to pass.
Safari said the supporting infrastructure at the borders is very poor.
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