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Monday, 20th February 2017
Kagitumba Border post

Government officials from Uganda and Rwanda will today Monday commence a joint tour of their countries' border areas.

"We want to make sure there are no non-tariff barriers at all our borders and look at the One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) operations," said Uganda's Ambassador to Rwanda, Richard Kabonero.

He said the tour starts from Cyanika, Bunagana before proceeding to Katuna on Tuesday and Mirama Hills on Wednesday.

The activity is part of the Northern Corridor leaders' commitment to stimulate regional trade.

Officials say improved physical infrastructure fit for purpose will contribute to reducing the time to transport goods between Kampala and Kigali, and therefore also contribute to reducing trade costs in East Africa.

The Mirama Hills road route offers a shorter and less difficult route to Rwanda than passing through the Katuna/Gatuna border post.

Operationalisation of the OSBP at Kagitumba and Mirama Hills is expected to decrease the time for goods to be transported between Kampala and Kigali and increase the volume of traffic using this route.

Ambassador Kabonero said the OSBP "eliminates delays at the borders and lowers the cost of doing business."

He further said "goods are cleared once at the OSBP and not at both entry and exit."

$11.3 million has been invested in the construction of Kagitumba OSBP facilities which includes Customs and Migration block, Inspection and Warehouse block, sheltered parking yards, internal roads

An Integrated Border Management System including computers and their accessories, internet, CCTV cameras, laboratory equipment, and development of OSBP procedures also have been put in place to enable One Stop Controls.

Construction started in May 2013 and operations officially commenced in December 2015.

Clearing time through the Kagitumba-Mirama Hills border has already reduced by 25 percent from 5 hours to 3:45 hours, by March 2016. Time reductions are expected to go up to 30 percent.

At peak performance, the OSBP at Kagitumba is expected to afford border users an estimated 30 percent time savings and attract 60 percent of Northern Corridor traffic.

To improve physical connectivity, two bridges were constructed with one serving cargo and passengers going to Uganda and the second serving those entering Rwanda.

Officials said accessibility from the border point into Uganda is expected to become easier once a 37km Ntungamo-Mirama Hills bitumen road is completed in April 2017.

The Ntungamo-Mirama Hills route is a natural preference as it offers a shorter and less difficult way from Rwanda to Kampala.

It is also a principal route connecting Kigali to Burundi, and DRC along the Northern Corridor, offering a shorter distance to Rwanda in comparison to other road networks along the same corridor.

Kabonero said the joint tour is important "especially given that we are about to launch the OSBP at Mirama Hills as soon as the road is completed."

Meanwhile, government officials from the two countries will as well interact with officers from various agencies including customs, immigration and security to enhance cross border cooperation in addressing cross-border crime.