Non-tarrif barriers still trouble EAC

As the East African Community (EAC) holds its summit in Kampala this weekend, the heads of state are expected to discuss what hampers speedy integration.

Of course, many believe that recent developments in the region, with three of the five states forging relations at the expense of two other members will be on top of their agenda. But, there are other many underlying issues.

For example, there are non-tariff barriers, which Tanzania has been blamed for not addressing effectively. One of the problems which Tanzania has been criticised for failing to implement as per agreements in the region is that of roadblocks.

Transporters have been lamenting that there are too many unnecessary roadblocks in Tanzania compared with any other EAC member state.

A study by Twaweza, a non-government organisation, in 2010 using data from Centre for Economic Prosperity shows this. Findings indicated that trucks travelling in Tanzania were delayed by police stops and weighbridges. This increases the cost of transport in Tanzania.

Moreover, truckers are forced to pay bribes in the stops. According to the study, the total amount paid per trip in bribes was equivalent to 4-6 litres of diesel. 

This suggests that factors other than bribery are likely to be the cause of high transportation costs in Tanzania. The main issue is numerous barriers which consume more time.

Twaweza established that on average truck drivers on the main routes go to a weighbridge three times per trip and spend some 10 minutes or about 30 minutes per trip.

But in recent days it has been observed that a queue leading to the weighbridge can take trucks hours. As a result, a trip which was to be made in one day can take up to two or three days, thus increasing the transport costs.

Despite increased intra-regional trade in recent years, non-tarrif barriers continue to pose serious setbacks to economic integration of the  bloc.

 The barriers, which range from security checks to unnecessary inspections by customs officials, are already undermining the successful implementation of the EAC Customs Union as they impede the free flow of goods.

 “Incidences of non-tarrif curbs tend to undermine the EAC integration process,” the then Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka lamented when he opened the 4th EAC Media Summit in the Kenyan capital in March 2011.
The problem, according to him, has been aggravated by the weak enforcement of the common external tariff  for goods imported into the region and weak application of and compliance with the Rules of Origin for manufactured goods.

 The barriers not only contravene the good practice and principles espoused in the EAC Treaty but also the protocols that established the Customs Union and the Common Market which came into force last July.

 However, it seems that the Tanzanian government has finally decided to act on this issue. Information by the government shows that there will be three major truck stops on the central transport corridor. One of them will be at Vigwaza in Coast Region. Work on the Vigwaza roadblock has started.

During the last Parliamentary session, Works deputy minister Gerson Lwenge said the government had embarked on a project to construct one stop inspection stations on highways as a way of reducing delays to transporters.

He said when answering a question from Mr Innocent Kalogeris, Morogoro South MP on a CCM ticket that the centres would be multipurpose and would reduce time spent by transporters.

Mr Lwenge said Tanzania was collaborating with neighbours in constructing a number of one-stop border posts to ease the handling of cargo across borders.

He said such posts were being established at Mutukula (Tanzania/Uganda), Tunduma (Tanzania/Zambia), Namanga (Tanzania/Kenya), Rusumo (Tanzania/Rwanda), Holili (Tanzania/Kenya), Horohoro (Tanzania/Kenya), Sirari (Tanzania/Kenya), Kabanga (Tanzania/Burundi) and Kasumulu (Tanzania/Malawi).

He said one-stop inspection stations would facilitate the inspection of various particulars at one point. He said, for instance, on the Dar es Salaam-Dodoma-Rusumo route there would be three stations: at Vigwaza in Coast Region, Manyoni in Singida Region and Nyakanazi in Kigoma Region.

Mr Lwenge explained that through the Southern Africa Trade and Transport Facilitation Project (SATTFP) which is being sponsored by the World Bank, two stations would be constructed between Morogoro and Tunduma/Kasumulu. This would make roadblocks on the southern highway to also be three.

To facilitate police work in monitoring  vehicles, Mr  Lwenge said $1 million had been set aside under SATTFP to buy vehicles for police force. “These vehicles will be used for patrols on the Dar-Tunduma road and  the Kasumulu highway,” he said.

There are around 20 roadblocks between Dar es Salaam and Tunduma in Mbeya Region; 14 of them between Dar es Salaam and Singida and eight between Dar es Salaam and Arusha.

For years the government has promised to reduce the number of roadblocks but nothing has been done.
Source: The Citizen, reported by Peter Nyanje from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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