he construction of the Mahagi One Stop Border Post (OSBP) is nearing completion with over 85 per cent of the works having been done by June 2023, according to the Trademark Africa (TMA), the project implementing agency that has overseen the construction of 22 other such facilities across the East African region.
The OSBP will cut the import and export time from Mombasa to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and vice-versa by 30 per cent, TMA announced in a recent tweet.
The Government of the DRC and TMA signed a contract to begin construction of the OSBP with Uganda on April 16, 2020. The project is co-financed by the Netherlands, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the British Department for International Development (DFID).
Mahagi (DRC)/Goli (Uganda) is one of DR Congo’s busiest border crossings, located at the axis linking the popular centres of Arua (Uganda), Bunia (DRC), Kisangani (DRC), and the port of Mombasa in Kenya along the Northern Corridor.
OSBPs reduce transit time and costs for cross-border movements by integrating the Customs processes of border agencies of two neighbouring countries in one place without increasing risks to public security or revenue collection. Transiting users stop once in the destination country for customs clearance, entry, and exit processes.
In 2019, TMA supported the construction and initiation of One-Stop Border Posts across 7 border crossing points in the East African Community (EAC) Partner States and the Tunduma border post between Tanzania and Zambia.
A survey of time and traffic to cross these borders showed that they have contributed to reducing crossing times by an average of 70% and facilitating the movement of people and goods. The results exceeded projected targets.
“This is an initial project to modernize border posts that will allow more formalized systems for imports and exports and will reduce constraints and harassment, with the presence of only the four authorized border services mandated to operate at the border. Following these administrative infrastructures, others will be developed in the logistics sector, with financial support from Governments or donors. They will include vehicle parking lots, fuel depots, and facilities such as petrol stations and hotels among others.” the Governor of Ituri, H.E. Jean Bamanisa Saidi hailed the project during the launch.
The construction of Mahagi’s OSBP is an important step towards modernizing border infrastructure and integrating management by services authorized to work at border posts.
This step simplifies the control of documents and procedures to enable speedier border formalities. It facilitates quicker migration formalities and trade by improving the efficiency of management and improving the fight against fraud, smuggling, terrorism, and other crimes. With standardized border infrastructure, authorized service providers will be able to deploy more effective controls and ensure smooth movements through the borders.
The expansion of the TMA programmes to DRC, particularly the east, was at the invitation of the Government. Priority projects include the construction of OSPBs, of Mahagi and Ruzizi II; the latter is in Bukavu, DRC, and is adjacent to Rusizi II on the Rwandan side.
The estimated nine-month Mahagi project was delayed due to the cautionary measures that were employed to control the spread of Covid 19 pandemic that curtailed human interactions.
The Interim Director General of Customs and Excise in DRC, Mr. Jean Baptiste Nkongolo Kabila Mutshi explained the importance of the project thus.
“The construction of Mahagi’sOSBP contributes to modernizing border infrastructure in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. This contemporary infrastructure is expected to play an important role in facilitating trade along the Northern Corridor and enabling the DRC Customs (DGDA) to improve the handling of goods, reduce processing and declaration time and effectively fight against fraud and smuggling, therefore, increasing the Treasury’s revenues”.