By Mary Hearty
The land border between Kenya and Tanzania now has one single border post. The multi-million dollar project is expected to boost trade and tourism between these two East African countries.
The African Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) co-funded the two countries to the tune of $185 million in 2007 for the project. Kenya and Tanzania received $108 million and $77million respectively.
The border post was built in Namanga, a town of 16,000 residents that connects Longido District in Tanzania and Kajiado County in Kenya.
Edward Wilson Lyimo, the owner for more than 20 years of a hotel on the Tanzanian side of Namanga expressed his gratitude for the new crossing point that has increased traffic thus enhancing his business.
“Thanks to the new crossing point, road traffic has increased, businesses have become more profitable and this new crossing has really helped us. Now, we can do business in both countries,” Lyimo said.
Moreover, it has led to development of roads in the region as well eased movement of people and goods across the border.
According to Naftali Elude Mzota, a driver for the Impala Shuttle Company in Tanzania, customs clearance used to be a challenge at the border.
“You had to go through at the Tanzanian immigration office, and then repeat the exercise on the Kenyan side. It used to take between one and a half and two hours,” Mzota explained.
He added: “That has changed now when passengers arrive. As single checkpoint does all the administration and they are able to carry on across the border.”
The One-Stop Border Post project is also advancing regional cooperation, facilitating cross-border dialogue and the signing of treaties between EAC member countries.
It supports the ongoing work of the Facilitation of Cross-Border Movements Committee, set up in 1998 by the EAC Commission to address passports, travel documents for businesspeople, visas and other matters identified in the Tripartite Agreement on Road Transport.
The idea now is to reproduce this initiative on other borders, such as that with Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia,” Kenneth Bagamuhunda, Director-General, Customs and Trade of the East African Community (EAC) said.
The African Development Bank is working to support regional integration, cross-border trade, tourism, the socioeconomic development of the region and poverty eradication.