Sunday January 5 2014

New weighbridge policy good for all

The Uganda National Roads Authority has announced new guidelines to simplify the weighing of goods in transit at its weighbridges across the country. Under the new guidelines, goods in transit will be weighed only at the point of entry into the country, rather than at every weigh bridge as has been the case. The new move, which is part of strategies to ease doing business in the region, is a tripartite decision by the presidents of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to have transit goods weighed once at the point of entry to each country. This is a significant step towards reducing non-tariff barriers to regional trade and business.
The previous system where goods would be weighed at every weighbridge on the transit route inside the country has been time wasting resulting in unnecessary delays and escalated costs of doing business in the country. The weighing of transit goods only at the entry point into another country, which effectively removes the bureaucratic chain that had complicated transportation of goods into and out of the country, will bring a smile on the exporters’ and importers’ faces. The new weighing system will expedite the movement of goods across the borders, save time and reduce costs of doing business.
It is a welcome decision by the respective regional governments.
However, the development should be reinforced with other measures to further reduce the barriers to regional trade and business. The authority, in liaison with the government, should also put in place measures to check overloading of trucks. Overloading accelerates road deterioration, increases vehicle maintenance costs, travel time and ultimately erodes the government investments in the road transport network.
There is also need for measures to ease or expedite immigration clearance at the border posts to make travel across the region quite convenient for everybody. Easy movement of goods and people is a big incentive to investment and business. With other efforts such as single regional currency, single regional passport and other harmonious measures already in place or being put in place, the East African Community states will translate into enviable international investment destinations sooner than later. Everybody loves convenience; let’s not wish it, let’s create it.