“It is only those that have never experienced war that overlook the importance of peace,” Beca Cunnyua, an informal cross border trader at Nimule told our reporter when asked about the impact of the recent developments at the Uganda-South Sudan border.
The trader was indeed spot on. Following the recent peace pact between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President, now main rival Riek Machar, a lot of progress has been registered in South Sudan.
Among the positive things that have come with the current peace enjoyed in South Sudan is the construction of the Nimule One Stop Border Post, access roads and a cargo verification centre at a cost of USD 5 million.
This morning, TradeMark East Africa handed over the recently completed Nimule One Stop Border Post (OSBP) to the Government of South Sudan in an event officiated by H.E. Dr. James Wani Igga, Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan and Hon Amelia Kyambadde, Minister for Trade, Industry and Co-operatives, Republic of Uganda.
Nimule is the most important border crossing for South Sudan, controlling over 90% of all trade cargo destined for the country. Inadequate border infrastructure, insufficient technical equipment, poor border design, duplicated border procedures and non-coordination of the border agencies has resulted in congestion, slow down movement of people and goods, thus raising the cost of business. It would take an average 4 days to process imports through the border prior to the construction of the Nimule OSBP.
Further, in a nation heavily dependent of humanitarian assistance for food and basic commodities, significant delays in clearance of goods often occasioned irregular supply of basic goods to the local population. With instability in the region, movement of humanitarian aid was also greatly hampered.
The US$ 5 million Nimule One Stop Border Post (OSBP) Project, was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) through TMEA and undertaken in partnership with the South Sudan Ministry of Transport.
The project scope included a modern office block to house various government agencies involved in cross border trade among them Customs, Immigration, Bureau of Standards, Security Agents, Ministry of Trade and Ministry of Health. Other agencies active at the border include the World Food programme and Clearing Agents.
The Nimule OSBP project also features access roads to the facility, a parking yard that can accommodate 150 cargo truck s as well as an examination yard for cargo processed through the border.
Speaking during the project hand over, H.E. Dr. James Igga, noted that the modern border crossing would greatly speed up cargo clearance and improve service delivery to citizens of South Sudan and traders doing business in the country.
“I am happy to note that with this new one stop border post, goods and travellers to our nation will be processed faster and in a more efficient manner, hence greatly facilitating trade. Modern border management is a critical factor in oiling the wheels of trade in our country. As a government we are committed to continuous reforms that improve services to our people and business competitiveness”.
On her part, Uganda’s Trade, Industry and Co-operatives Minister, Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, explained that the improved border post would greatly enhance trade between the two countries.
South Sudan is among our most important trading partners. With these modern facilities, citizens from both countries and indeed the wider East African region will be able to move their goods and services more efficiently, spurring our economies for the benefit of our people.”
TMEA South Sudan Country Representative, John Bosco Kalisa observed that the improved Nimule OSBP is not only contributing to enhanced trade but is also becoming a great stabiliser in a sensitive region.
“Already citizens of both countries are trading more with each other. This allows little room for conflict as each player sees the other first and foremost as a business partner. Further enhanced trade is improving the economic welfare of trading communities in the region.”
Kalisa also observed that the project is already registering early wins for women traders who constitute a significant portion of cross boarder traders at Nimule, “It is heartening to see more women engage in cross-border trade and expand their businesses, given years of instability that had exposed many to harsh economic realities. At TMEA, women are especially important in our programs and its rewarding to see they are among the groups to benefit from this project”.
Meanwhile, Damali Ssali, the acting Country Director for TradeMark East Africa, Uganda noted that in addition to the Nimule and Elegu one stop border posts, TradeMark EA through the Uganda Ministry of Trade has constructed an Aggregation Centre – a facilitate that will enable informal cross border traders from both countries to store and sell their products.
“The one stop border post is not just for big formal traders but is also designed to facilitate small scale informal traders from both Uganda and South Sudan.” Damali Ssali noted.
TMEA through its donors and in partnership with the East Africa Community has since 2010 to date invested over US$117 million in the upgrading of 15 OSBPs and access roads in East Africa. These include: Busia/Busia(Kenya/Uganda), Malaba/Malaba (Kenya/Uganda), Kagitumba/Mirama Hills (Rwanda/Uganda), Mutukula/Mutukula (Uganda/Tanzania), Holili/Taveta (Kenya/Uganda), Elegu/Nimule (Uganda/South Sudan), Kobero/Kabanga (Burundi/Tanzania) and Tunduma (Zambia).
The concept of one stop border post (OSBP) is that traffic crossing the border need only stop at one border post staffed with officials from both countries. This reduces time to cross borders and transport costs to businesses. Ultimately this increases wealth and reduces poverty.
TMEA interventions in East Africa has resulted in an average 70% reduction in time it takes to cross select borders and a 26% cost reduction the cost of transporting a 40-foot container along key corridors in the region. A recent Independent evaluation report by UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) found its model has proven to be both solid and effective in trade facilitation.
TradeMark (Trade and Markets) East Africa is an aid-for-trade organisation that was established in 2010, with the aim of growing prosperity in East Africa through increased trade. TMEA operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by the development agencies of the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, European Union, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom and United States of America.