Uganda is pushing for complete removal of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), including the reduction on number of weigh bridges, roadblocks and time for cargo clearance at the Northern Corridor.
The Northern Corridor, a lifeline of the region, is continuously facing challenges that affect cross border trade, slowing down commerce and causing shocks to economies struggling to recover from several challenges.
Uganda’s foreign affairs ministry and the Secretariat of Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority have since resolved to establish collaboration in the areas of trade facilitation, Trans-boundary infrastructure development and capacity building, among others.
The development that is expected to enhance cross border trade and actualization of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIPs) in a seamless interconnected digital communications platform for customs was reached after a Ugandan delegation led by Permanent Secretary, Vincent Bagiire held talks with NCTTCA) secretariat and Kenya Ports Authority in Mombasa.
Amb. Richard Kabonero, the NCIPs coordinator at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Paul Mukumbya, the Consul General of Uganda Consulate in Mombasa, Mr. Moses Mpungu, the First Secretary at Uganda Consulate in Mombasa and Mr. Aggrey Dhamuzungu, the First Secretary at Foreign Affairs Ministry in charge of NCIPs attended the meeting.
In Mombasa, the Ugandan delegation met with the Ag. Executive Secretary of the NCTTCA, Dr. Elias Leju Leornado and the Managing Director of Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Capt. William K. Ruto Afni where they toured the Mariakani weigh bridge station on Mombasa-Nairobi Highway.
Bagiire said it is important for Member States to remain committed in developing regional transport infrastructure as it will promote regional integration and trade.
He said the cooperation and commitment will eliminate the remaining non-tariff barriers to trade thereby making the region competitive for business and investment.
The head of the Ugandan delegation said the improvement of infrastructure and facilities for seaports, inland ports and waterways, roads, rails and pipelines by the states will enable the region benefit in trade.
The Permanent Secretary also recalled the 2013 Summit Directives of the Partner States of NCIPs that agreed to among others, undertake infrastructure development projects in coordinated mechanisms within the Northern Corridor countries for the economic growth and development of the region.
He highlighted the strides and progress of NCIPs such as the commencement and fast-tracking of construction and standardization of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) network among the Partner States, One Network Area, cooperation in air services and power generation and the Single East Africa Tourism Visa.
He emphasized the commitment to revive the NCIPs with the planned convening of the NCIPs 15th Summit that had stalled due to economic and political challenges.
He underscored the need for collaboration with the NCTTCA that offers hands on experience and framework of implementing the NCIPs.
NCTTCA’s Dr. Elias Leju indicated the Authority’s readiness to facilitate the hosting of trans-boundary meetings on the construction of the roads of; Mpondwe-Bunia (Uganda/DRC), Moroto-Lora (Uganda/Kenya), Kaya-Yeyi (Uganda/South Sudan) and SGR (Uganda/South Sudan and Uganda/Kenya/Rwanda) among others.
During a guided visit to the Mariakani weigh bridge station, the Ugandan delegation appreciated the effort to reduce/remove Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), including the reduction on number of weigh bridges, roadblocks and time for cargo clearance (with now only one weigh bridge between Mombasa and Nairobi).