Ministry of Works and Transport together with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) has Thursday handed over the Elegu one stop border post (OSBP) to Uganda Revenue Authority to facilitate export and import trade between the two countries
The Elegu Center is one of the 10 OSBPs that TMEA through its funders DFID and UK Aid has been facilitating major borders of the East African Community (EAC) states to ease and promote trade in the region.
The Elegu OSBP will host all trade facilitation agencies so that traders do not waste time moving from one place to another in the process of clearing their goods for export.
Like all the other OSBP’s, Elegu OSBP will bring Customs and other government agencies from Uganda and South Sudan together, working from the same office to quicken export and imports while reducing costs of doing business.
Speaking at the technical handover, the Minister for Trade, industry and cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde said the new facility will reduce corruption tendencies, improve transparency and reduce the cost of doing business for the business community in Uganda and South Sudan
“South Sudan has been Uganda’s main export destination, although trading between the two countries had reduced due to conflicts in South Sudan. With this new facility, I believe trade between the two countries will improve” she said
Hon. Kyambadde further called for the need to train traders on good business practices so that the facility can be fully utilized.
“The Elegu border is a major entry and exit point between Uganda and South Sudan with the largest volumes of goods and people crossing every day. I ask our traders to avoid using illegal entry point and involve your selves in bribes when this facility has been put in place for you” she said
The Commissioner Customs URA Mr. Kateshumbwa Dickson said that over the last 5 years, Trade volumes in terms of exports through Elegu border grew from UGX 197.8Bn to UGX 225.2Bn while imports through Elegu border grew from UGX 0.5Bn to UGX 1.2Bn.
“Transits through Elegu border grew from UGX 92Bn to UGX 200Bn. URA also collects around 3.6b in revenue annually. With the Elegu OSBP, flooding which has been a major challenge for the community will be no more,” he said.
Joseph Sabiiti, the Country Director TMEA, said the facility valued at about $6.6m and an extra $2m for the next phase that will include construction of staff quarters and other acquisition of ICT.
According to him, the Operationalization of the Elegu OSBP will lead to improved clearance times with all government agencies operating under one roof, facilitation of cross border traders with a COMESA trade information desk, Improvement in working environment for staff, Establishment of a Women Traders office to cater for their unique needs and a holistic approach to border management which strengthens government’s ability to address strategic issues among the border stakeholders.
“We have been investing in these border posts because we believe by putting the right infrastructure and systems, countries can improve their economies and also work towards inclusive development” he said
Since the south Sudan side, Nimule OSBP was delayed because of the conflicts in the country; the Elegu OSBP will host authorities in south Sudan until their side is completed.
Among the main challenges that have been facing traders on the Elegu-Nimule border include corruption tendencies, harsh treatment of Ugandan traders by south Sudan authorities, over flooding of the border that led to huge losses and delays in clearing of goods
According to Mou Mou Athian Kuol, the Undersecretary EAC affairs In the EAC Ministry of trade and Industry, the ministry had received complaints from the Ugandan exporters about harsh treatment from the south Sudan side. He revealed that the EAC Secretariat had already started looking in the matter and will soon be solved.
Edrian Green, the head of growth and Economic development at UKAid, the organization through TMEA has been funding the construction of OSBPs in East African region because they believe it would enable countries to trade better between each other and improve the livelihood of the people by reducing poverty through trade.