Dar es Salaam. Cross border traders in Uganda and Tanzania will now be able to report any mistreatment to the Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TanTrade) or directly to the Minister of Industry and Trade, through a hotline to be placed at all border posts.
The new development was revealed yesterday by the Minister of Trade and Industry Innocent Bashungwa during the climax of the Tanzania-Uganda Business Forum that brought together over 1,400 participants from both countries.
The move comes just two days after President John Magufuli and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni faulted public servants for drawing back business between the two countries, pointing out same challenges at border posts.
In case a trader is mishandled or mistreated by government officers at the borders between Uganda and Tanzania, he or she will have a chance to raise the matter for further action.
“I will be the coordinator of the hotline,” said Mr Bashungwa during the event, which involved 312 participants from Uganda. “Soon I will disclose the service number,” he said in a direct effort to confront negative bureacracy.
Traders would use it to air their grievances in case they were dissatisfied with services at the borders,” he added.
Targeted officers are those working in Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), The Tanzania Medicines and Medical Devices Authority (TMDA) and Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), Energy Commission, Chief Government Chemist Office and Natural Resources Department.
The Minister directed the TanTrade director general Edwin Rutageruka to coordinate the trade facilitating authorities at the boarders, with a view to increasing their efficiency and avoiding frustrating traders.
President Magufuli said trade volume at Sh388.5 billion in 2017/18 financial year between Tanzania and Uganda was not that strong despite the available plentiful opportunities.
However, Dr Damas Ndumbaro, the deputy minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, said some trade barriers were attributed to traders themselves.
He said they were cooperating with some unscrupulous officials to impose barriers to goods from other countries.
Dr Ndumbaro said in cooperation with the Uganda authorities, barriers between the two countries would now be ironed out. “As we made it with our neighbours Kenya to remove some 19 trade barriers in the recent past, we can do the same with our Ugandan counterparts,” he asserted.
He called for partnership between Tanzania and Uganda’s firms, to optimally use the East African Community (EAC) market, with a combination of about 170 million population.
Mr Tom Byarugaba, the president of the Uganda Customs agents and Fright Shipping Forwarders Federation commended the government’s initiatives to address challenges that traders are grappling with.
He asked the government of Tanzania to create a room for constant flow of goods and people to and from Uganda.He said buses plying the routes were few. “The busses should also operate for 24 hours,” said Mr Byarugaba.