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Taveta border post boosts transit cargo through port of Mombasa

Customs officials are betting on the efficiency at the Taveta one-stop border post (OSBP) to boost transit cargo and increase cross-border trade.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) border post manager Daniel Nyambaka said the OSBP has already started paying dividend, saying trucks take 30 minutes to cross the border compared to up to five hours previously.

Under an OSBP, customs and immigration procedures are undertaken by officials from the bordering countries housed under one roof. Mr Nyambaka said a joint verification of goods, which is also undertaken at the facility, making the process faster as traders no longer have to waste time moving from one post to the other. The OSBP has been operational for a year now.

It is expected to boost transit cargo that pass through Mombasa Port to landlocked countries like Burundi and Rwanda, which have in recent years reduced Kenya-bound imports. Passengers who use the border post frequently said clearance was now faster.

According to Jah Ramzan, a driver with Tahmeed Bus Company which operates from Mombasa to Dar-es-salaam, whereas they would spend more than five hours waiting for passengers to clear with immigration at both posts, the time has reduced to less than 15 minutes.

“Initially we would park the bus at the Tanzania border and clear passengers then come to Kenya where we would repeat the exercise. But with all the officers under one roof, it takes one person about five minutes to clear,” he said.

According to a recent report by the East Africa Legislative Assemble (EALA), there is facilitation of free movement of persons and enhancement of trade between partner states where the OSBPs are operational.

Mr Nyambaka said they expect trucks transporting goods to Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda to use the route since it cuts the distance between Mombasa to DRC by up to 400 kilometres.

Completed by end of the year

The Mwatate-Taveta road which is being tarmacked is also expected to be completed by end of the year, heightening expectation that there will be increased traffic when the road is completed.

The development comes at a time when the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has announced its plan to construct an Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Taveta to leverage on increased business at the border post.

According to acting managing director Catherine Wairi-Mturi, KPA has acquired a 50 acre land in Taveta town where it intends to construct an ICD. She said improved road infrastructure coupled with an ICD would boost onward transit, export and transshipment of cargo.

Speaking when he paid a visit at the port last week, Burundi Transport minister, Jean Bosco Ntunzwenimana, said construction of an alternative route between Burundi and Tanzania would open up business within the region.

He said ongoing opening up of an alternative route to Bujumbura – Mombasa-Voi-Taveta-Moshi-Arusha-Singida-Bujumbura covering a total of 1545km will reduce the distance from Mombasa to Bujumbura via the Northern corridor by 358km.

Burundi’s cargo through Mombasa is pre-dominantly clinker, motor vehicles and tea for exports. In 2014, KPA opened a liaison office in Bujumbura to bring services closer to the customers in the country and also to reach out to the Democratic Republic of Congo market.

With the second container terminal coming into operation, container throughput at the port is expected to reach 1.6million TEU’s in 2018 with imports to DRC, Burundi and Rwanda expected to pass through the Taveta border post.

At least 15 such posts within the East Africa Community (EAC) states and those already operational include Mutukula (Uganda-Tanzania), Mirama Hill-Kagitumba (Uganda-Rwanda) and Rusumo (Rwanda-Tanzania). Others are Lungalunga-HoroHoro (Kenya-Tanzania), Taveta-Holili (Kenya-Tanzania) and Namanga (Tanzania-Kenya).