THE East African Community (EAC) member states have agreed to charge 10 US dollars per 100 kilometres as a road toll for cargo trucks to strengthen provision of customs services at the borders.
The agreement was reached at the 42nd meeting of the Ministers of Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) held at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha at the weekend.
Speaking after the meeting, the Minister for Investment, Industry and Trade Dr Ashatu Kijaji and Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba said the rate is for vehicles from one country to another within the community instead of each country having its own toll rates.
“We have agreed to charge 10 US dollars per 100 kilometres as roads user charges for cargo trucks to the member countries instead of each country charging its charges as well as strengthening the provision of customs services at the border of Kenya and Tanzania which will reduce congestion of trucks and stimulate business growth,” said Dr Kijaji.
In addition, the sectoral council agreed to abolish the cost of visas for their citizens who want to travel from one country to another (within EAC) for various activities including business to promote relations among the residents of the community as well as stimulate the growth of business and the economy of the respective country.
Speaking about the removal of cargo, the Ministers said that Tanzanian cargo being transported to Kenya will continue to be cleared through the One Customs Empire System that came into force in April this year.
Dr Kijaji said the meeting approved as well the final draft of East African Standards (FDEAS) where 65 standards will come into force officially.
“The meeting has approved a policy document for the EAC to hold discussions with other regional areas and other countries and the terms of reference for the preparation of the EAC Private Sector Development Policy as well as the terms of reference for the preparation of the Competition Authorities Strategy for the period of 2024 – 2029,” Dr Kijaji said.
In addition, the countries agreed to remove Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), with new barriers being presented at the meeting to address them and improve the investment and trade environment between the countries.
Moreover, she said the meeting also accepted the use of the EAC Electronic System for reporting and resolving NTBs known as the NTB App.
On his part, Dr Nchemba said in line with the meeting they also received and discussed a report on the preliminary Budget Consultations of the Finance Ministers of the EAC and implementation of the decisions of the 41st meeting of the SCTIFI.
Other sector reports were received and discussed including the report of the committee on customs, the report on trade matters, the report on competition matters and the report on the sectorial committee on Investment.
The meeting that brought together the EAC member countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and DR – Congo, was held in accordance with the EAC meeting calendar and was chaired by Burundi’s Trade and Industry Minister, Marie Nijimbere.