Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni are this Saturday expected to launch a revamped border crossing in Busia, signalling an era of faster movement of goods and services.
The One-Stop-Border Post (OSBP) combines the traditional two stops for border processing into one, as well as consolidates other border control functions in shared spaces between the two countries for exit and entry points.
Cross-border business advisory organisation Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) facilitated the funding for this project estimated at $12 million, with money coming from the UK Department of International Development (DFID) and the Global Affairs Canada.
Officials say this type of border crossing was influenced by desire to improve revenue collection by speeding up clearance for goods and people wishing to travel to either side of the countries.
The OSBP is expected to reduce transportation time by saving up to a third of the current time taken, a TMEA assessment shows.
The project began in 2011, after a TMEA study showed Busia border crossing was one of the busiest in East Africa, at the time witnessing an average of 894 vehicles crossings per day.
Back then, the time spent to cross the border “was variable taking between a few hours and up to five days,” TMEA report said then.
Delays caused sulky traders, which in turn discouraged export trade.
The Ugandan side was completed in May 2016 while the Kenyan side was done in July 2017.
Friday, travellers entering Kenya from Uganda are cleared by both countries’ Immigration officials sitting under one roof, saving time taken when folks had to make two separate queues to clear.
County officials in Busia said maximum security has been organised.
“Everything is in plan. We have given matters security priority and we want to assure residents that security has been beefed up and we will continue doing so to ensure everybody is safe,” County Commissioner Michael Tialal told reporters on Thursday.
“We urge residents to turn up in large numbers to witness this land mark ceremony. This is your facility and our wish is that it’s officially opened and our people allowed to maximise on business opportunities available,” said Tialal.
It is estimated that crossing time for travellers has been cut from one hour and 26 minutes on average to about 37 minutes. Crossing from Kenya to Uganda has reduced by 76 per cent from 14 hours and 20 minutes to 3 hours and 40 minutes.
On Thursday, government officials fought off claims the new border crossing will only benefit the national government , especially since the County unit can no longer collect parking fees for transit trucks.
- Additional reporting by Gaitano Pessa