One Stop Border Posts: can they work?
Beitbridge is set to follow in Chirundu’s footsteps as a One Stop Border Post if relevant changes are not implemented
In a recent media release on February 9, the Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi announced that Beitbridge – the busiest border post in southern Africa – would operate as a One Stop Border Post (OSBP) from 2024. It could, however, follow in the footsteps of Chirundu, which became the first OSBP in Africa in December 2009, if relevant changes are not implemented.
Hailed as a success and promoted as the iconic OSBP in Africa, Chirundu OSBP has failed miserably and no longer functions as an OSBP, with cross-border times in excess of two days. This is unlike the East African Community (EAC) countries where more than 10 OSBPs developed since 2014 have shown drastic time reductions of up to 80 percent.
What has happened in the EAC region that we can’t get right in southern Africa? It’s quite simple:
The principles of efficiency:
• Total commitment and cooperation between heads of states in the EAC region;
• The rapid implementation of OSBPs;
• The reduction in the number of weighbridge stations and police checkpoints along the corridors;
• A single permit and a yellow card insurance system recognised by all member states;
• One cross-border charge or fee applicable in all member states;
• Massive time reductions in excess of 50 percent at the newly implemented OSBPs;
• Introduction of the Single Customs Territory system in all EAC countries – payment of duties at point of origin; and
• A regional Bond being phased in to replace the National Transit Bond system.
Why can’t we get this right in southern Africa? Again, it’s quite simple:
The principles for failure:
• No political will among the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Every member state has its own agenda;
• No funds for the development of OSBP infrastructure. As a result, we are stuck with antiquated infrastructure that does not support streamlined procedures and processes, and that is not conducive to fast track traffic flows;
• No reduction in the number of weighbridges or police checkpoints in the region. The number of police checkpoints has increased and weighbridge systems are antiquated and not linked to avoid duplication of weighing. As a result, trucks are weighed several times along the corridor;
• The SADC has not yet introduced a single insurance system that is acceptable to all member states;
• Multiple and exorbitant cross-border charges on entry to each SADC member state along the corridor;
• Massive increase in cross-border times in excess of 50 percent, due to ongoing customs ICT system downtimes, chaotic procedures and processes, and lack of traffic management skills resulting in queues at the border posts in excess of five to 30 km at times;
• No single window system that links all customs ICT systems along the full length of the corridors; and
• The SADC has not yet introduced a Regional Bond system to replace the cumbersome outdated National Transit Bond system.
The Beitbridge OSBP is unlikely to succeed without the changes implemented by the EAC. Can it be fixed before it’s too late? Yes, it can, and this will be discussed in Driving Africa in the next issue of FOCUS on Transport.