COVID-19: Truck Drivers Force Rwanda to shift Customs clearance to border posts

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Trucks exiting Mirama Hills / Kagitumba One Stop Border Post. File Photo/Courtesy
By :
Baluku Geoffrey

As East Africa grapples with an increased number of truck drivers contracting COVID-19 in their line of duty, Rwanda has come up with a raft of measures to protect as well as curb the spread of the virus into the country.

The new measures are intended to manage the traffic of cargo coming into the country at the same time insuring the smooth running of cross border and regional trade.

In a communication to the chief executive officers of Magera Ltd, Dubai World Kigali Logistics Ltd and Bollore Logistics Ltd, Trade and Industry minister, Soraya M. Hakuziyaremye, said that all warehouses have been directed to extend their services to the border posts of Rusumo and Kagitumba.

This she said has been done in order to ably manage the entry of trucks into the country.

“This is therefore to formally inform you of the change in the modus operandi and request you to extend all your warehouse services to the border posts of Rusumo and Kagitumba with effect from 27th April 2020,” Hakuziyaremye said in a statement dated April 25, 2020.

Her directive follows an earlier communication from Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) Commissioner General, Bizimana Ruganintwali Pascal, to clearing agencies, shippers, transporters, ware house operators, exporters and the general public informing them of the new guidelines.

He said that, among the new guidelines agreed upon were that all cargo and conveyors shall be offloaded and transshipped at the customs point of entry (i.e. Rusumo and Kagitumba customs border posts).

For transporters who shall have two truck drivers (one from the point of departure and a second driver based on Rwandan territory), these he said, will be allowed to proceed to final destination after fulfilling the health guidelines.

While commenting on services that have been offered by customs offices in Kigali and other customs controlled areas, including warehousing facilities for loading, offloading and warehousing of cargo, the Commissioner General (CG) said all these shall be availed at the entry borders.

“Inland cargo depots shall be availed for effective loading and transshipment exercises at the customs entry point,” he said.

Further, he noted that clearing of goods should be done using the pre clearance mechanisms currently in place i.e. SCT Clearance frame work and payment of duties and taxes before the arrival of the goods for quick release at the entry border posts.

“All declaration documents accompanying cargo must be submitted electronically to customs administration to avoid paper manipulation,” he said.

Commenting on clients with perishable goods and consignments that require special warehousing facilities such as petroleum products, the Revenue Authority head said these shall be allowed to proceed to destination after change of crew members (truck drivers) in respect with the current health guidelines in place.

In order to expedite the clearance and release of goods, the CG called on all clearing agents to ensure they declare detailed description of goods.

“All importers must use EBM version 2 to ease declaration and release of their goods,” he said

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