Traders have raised concerns over the rising cost of transporting goods in the region. With high tariffs and charges, movements of goods and doing business continue to be challenging.
Covid-19 test results delays, inconsistent tariffs and high charges have subjected some businesses to losses.
For instance, Andrew Bitwayiki runs a business of importing cement from different countries in the region to Rwanda.
His company owns trucks to import cement from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Sometimes, a truck can spend up to seven days on the border waiting for tariff clarification or Covid-19 test results. Save for Rwanda, other countries charge parking for which they would pay up to $800 when they are made to wait for days.
“I plan for a number of trips needed in a month to earn enough to pay for loans and other expenditures. If I have to pay all the charges and tariffs in every country I reach and also wait for more than a week, it does not reflect well on my finances. There are losses incurred,” Bitwayiki said in an interview.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought its own drawbacks. For example, crossing the Tanzania-Rwanda border no longer requires Covid-19 test.
Under the EAC Treaty, partner states agreed to adopt measures to achieve free movement of persons, labour and services.
Some challenges, however, persist. Mr Bitwayiki, who is also the chairman of the Private Sector Federation in the City of Kigali, said until countries harmonise border operations and services, traders will continue to struggle.