From: Abdalah Hamis
Tanzania and Burundi have moved steps closer towards being the first countries in the East African Community (EAC) to operationalize the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) concept at Kabanga/Kobero .
The pilot operation is scheduled to commence in June of this year following completion of temporary structures on site and the installation of ICT systems at the border between the two countries, an achievement realised thanks to financial support from Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA).
Other than the financial support, the OSBP has also been made possible based on the bold decision by the governments of the two countries to sign the OSBP Bilateral Agreement back in 2011.
The Bilateral Agreement enables the countries to implement the OSBP concept while waiting for OSBP law, which is in the offing.
According to the tentative timetable released during a recent bi-lateral meeting between Tanzania and Burundi in the town of Gitega, Burundi, the OSBP operations on a pilot basis could start as early as 7th June, 2014.
The launching of the OSBP operations at the border will be a huge relief to travelers and traders from the two countries as they will now only stop once for customs formalities instead of twice, thereby cutting cost and time spent at the border. Clearance will also improve thanks to envisioned automation of operations at the post.
Under the OSBP concept, people entering Burundi will by-pass the Kabanga border post (Tanzania customs and immigration offices) and proceed to Kobero in Burundi where Tanzanian customs and immigration officials will work side by side.
Likewise those entering Tanzania will by-pass Kobero and stop only at Kabanga where officials of both countries will be working side by side.
According to Customs Officials Adelius Francis (Tanzania) and Bigirimana Felix (Burundi), on average, the border serves between 50 and 70 trucks per day, with more traffic moving from Tanzania into Burundi.
“Sometimes we attend to more than 100 trucks…it depends on the day,’ lamented Bigirimana who works at the Kobero border post.
Fully fledged OSPB operations at Kabanga/Kobero will begin when the construction of permanent structures completed.
TMEA’s Manager for OSBPs Israel Sekirasa told participants of the bilateral meeting who visited the border on 14th May, 2014 that the construction of the OSBP at Kabanga is expected to be completed by December this year.
He said that the construction of permanent facilities at Kobero on the Burundi side has not started but the country plans to use the modest buildings currently used for the pilot project until further notice.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN