Parliment’s standing committee on finance (SCoF) on Wednesday finally adopted a bilateral agreement between South Africa and Mozambique that brings the creation of a one-stop border post between the two countries a step closer.
The move has been six years in the making. The facility is expected to expedite the movement of goods and people, reduce congestion and delays, and lower the cost of cross-border trade.
Members of Parliment heard on Wednesday that the World Bank estimated that a one-day reduction in inland travel time in sub-Saharan Africa could result in a 7% increase in exports. Further, reducing export costs 10% through greater efficiency could increase exports 4.7%.
Parliament is in the process of ratifying the bilateral legal framework for the one-stop border post between South Africa and Mozambique at Lebombo-Ressano Garcia. It is the first bilateral framework of its kind for South Africa and is likely to be replicated in other parts of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The facility is expected to expedite the movement of goods and people, reduce congestion and delays, and lower the cost of cross-border trade
SADC has made a commitment to implementing such bilateral agreements throughout the region.
South Africa is in discussion with Zimbabwe about having a one-stop border post at Beitbridge, which is notorious for its congestion and long delays. The committee heard from Department of Home Affairs officials that a single visa for the region was also planned once systems have been integrated and secured.
The one-stop border post facility and access roads to Lebombo-Ressano Garcia have already been built and were just awaiting the go-ahead from the South African and Mozambican governments to begin operating. Each country would have a designated area in the combined facility for customs control but housing them in one unit would mean that goods would only have to be offloaded and loaded back onto trucks once for inspection.
South African Revenue Service senior executive Kosie Louw said the benefits of one-stop border posts were reduced border crossing times and reduced logistics costs. Further, they simplified and harmonised border control and administration, and integrated risk and information management.
A reduction in corruption and illegal imports was another benefit, Mr Louw said. Frequent travellers will be processed speedily through the use of fingerprints. A key element of the agreement is to provide for extraterritorial jurisdiction at the commonly held border posts and to deal with arrest, detention and seizure of goods. Both parties will be entitled to apply their own domestic customs laws within the common control zone.
The formal agreement for the project was signed between the two countries in September 2007 and the Cabinet gave its approval in August 2011 for the bilateral legal framework to be finalised and presented to Parliament. Source: BDlive.co.za