- Currently, the country, a new entrant to EAC, charges visa fees to citizens from the five other partner states
Arusha. South Sudan has been requested to stop charging visa entry fees on citizens of fellow East African Community (EAC) partner states.
Currently, the country - a recent entrant into the Community - charges visa fees on nationals from the other five EAC countries visiting Juba.
This is contrary to the EAC protocols which allow free movement of people across the region - provided they produce legitimate travel documents.
The call was made early this week by the executive director of the East African Business Council (EABC), Peter Mathui, during a visit to the Nimule-Elegu One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) between Uganda and South Sudan. “We also urge South Sudan to join Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to use National IDs as travel documents,” he said.
The visit was undertaken by EABC in collaboration with the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) and the South Sudan Chamber of Commerce.
It also coincided with the Joint Border Management Committee, deliberating on sustainable solutions on issues affecting the flow of goods and movement of persons at the border post.
Mr Mathuki noted that only the Ugandan side of the OSBP is operational, and called for full operationalisation of the Nimule-Elegu OSBP.
This, he said, was set to expedite the movement of goods and people and reduce transport costs across national boundaries.
The meeting was informed that the outbreak of Covid-19 has impacted heavily on the trade between the two countries. From January to September this year, for instance, the volume of trade between the two countries stood at $225.45 million.
This contrasted with the volume of trade between January and September 2019 whose value stood at $243.3 million, a drop of $17.8 million.
EABC, an apex body of private sector associations in the region, also called for removal of the $50 Covid-19 testing fee, which cross-border traders say is increasing the cost of doing business.
The Arusha-based Council also urged border officials to make information on the Simplified Trade Regime (STR) accessible to traders to enable them benefit from the regional preferential treatment when importing or exporting goods within the region.
The Nimule-Elegu OSBP is the main border post between South Sudan and Uganda - and it is the busiest land border post in South Sudan where most goods imported from Uganda are processed through b y Customs authorities.
The OSBP has been recording an average of 160 trucks crossing the border daily.
Some of the major goods traded using the borders include; cereals, sugars and sugar confectionery, milling products, vegetable fats and oils, edible vegetables and beverages.
Speaking during the event, the traders also asked officials from the EAC ministry in Uganda to engage the Ministry of Works and Transport, Uganda to come up with containment measures of the floods that continue to disrupt trade at the border.