NAIROBI: Kenya and Tanzania have opened the ultra-modern Holili/Taveta border post to facilitate regional trade.
The Sh1 billion investment was launched on Saturday and is the first one to be operated among the 13 one-stop border posts in East Africa and South Sudan, with funding from Trademark East Africa.
Labour Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie and Tanzania's Foreign Affairs Minister Augustine Mahiga said the unveiling of the facility marked a milestone in facilitating regional cross-border trade.
Speaking at Holili in Tanzania, the two officials said the facility will reduce the cost of doing business by 40 per cent and accelerate regional integration and economic growth among the East African member states.
"The facility will have an immediate impact on the citizens of the two countries and it will create signage of purpose," said Ms Kandie. "We are realising the deepening and widening of the EA integration process."
Noting that non-tariff barriers remained a major challenge across the borders, Kandie said the facility will enhance integrated border management to increase the free flow of movement and goods.
"The facility will reduce time taken in business transactions," she said.
Ms Mahiga said the move will improve the co-operation between Tanzania and Kenya. "The facility will eradicate barriers in trade to facilitate economic growth," said Mahiga. "The investment will impact positively on the socio-economic relations in EA as it will reduce transit costs."
Theo Lymo, a director at Trademark East Africa, said border officials had been trained to implement procedures for the facility, and customs clearing agents had also been familiarised with the new rules.
"The outcome we expect is reduction in the time it takes traffic to cross the border," he said.
Mr Lymo said the facility was not the only project they were undertaking adding that Trademark was also modernising the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam.
He said the organisation was also supporting the establishment of single-windows trade systems, harmonisation of standards, removal of non-tariff barriers, development of the single customs territory, among others.
The opening of the facility comes ahead of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart's visit early next month for inspection.