EABC: East Africa should have uniform road tolls

The Arusha–Holili–Taveta–Voi Road (A23) is a road in Tanzania and Kenya, connecting the towns of Arusha, Moshi, and Holili in Tanzania with Taveta and Voi in Kenya.

What you need to know:

  • Uganda charges $10 per 100 kilometers, whereas Tanzania’s road toll was once harmonised at a $152 flat rate for all vehicles crossing the country’s border.

Arusha. The East African Business Council (EABC) has called for uniform road toll fees in the region.

The move would ease transportation logistics and lower the cost of doing business in the seven-nation bloc.

The call was made this week by John Bosco Kalisa, the executive director of the apex body of private sector associations based in Arusha, Kigali.

He was speaking during a high-level dialogue with business stakeholders in the Rwandan capital, including transporters and importers of goods.

Rwanda, one of the East African Community (EAC) partner states, charges a fixed rate of $76 and $152 for small and large trucks, respectively.

Uganda charges $10 per 100 kilometers, whereas Tanzania’s road toll was once harmonised at a $152 flat rate for all vehicles crossing the country’s border.

A road toll system is a process whereby a fee is charged for accessing or using a public or private road—almost always a controlled-access highway.

It is a form of road pricing that is typically implemented to help recoup the cost of road construction and maintenance, as well as finance other public infrastructure projects.

According to him, the Arusha-based EAC Secretariat and the ministries holding the EAC Affairs docket in the respective partner states have been tasked with hastening the harmonization of road toll fees in the region.

Mr Kalisa held discussions with officials of the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) on the elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) for increased facilitation of trade across EA borders.

He appreciated the reforms undertaken by the Rwandan government that have ignited economic recovery and growth at 10.9 percent of GDP.

The latest statistics show that 160 trucks are cleared daily following the reopening of the Katuna-Gatuna OSBP on January 31, 2022.This has generated a hefty Ush470 million in tax collections per month, and about 1,000 people cross the border daily.

The EABC president also advocated for harmonisation of domestic taxes across the EAC region to avoid distortion and create a level playing field for businesses.

He called on Rwanda’s ministry and the Food and Drug Authority to fast-track the issuance of import permits and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) certificates to importers into the landlocked country.

For his part, Mr Matia Etedu from Uganda’s Ministry of EAC Affairs said his country looks forward to deploying trade facilitation agencies to the Rwanda side of the Gatuna border “once construction on the Uganda side (Katuna border) is finalised.”

RRA Commissioner General, Mr Pascal Bizimana, said that the Rwanda Revenue Authority has strategized to undertake digital transformation for better service provision.

He elaborated that research shows the tax contribution to GDP in his country has gone up to 15.9 percent, whereas in Uganda and Tanzania, the tax contribution to GDP in Rwanda was at 11.9 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively.

Mr Bizimana said the denial of preferential market access for products enjoying duty remission schemes and the implementation of East African Standards (500 grade) by Rwanda on steel bars and cement have been misinterpreted as NTBs.

He elaborated that the revenue authority was dedicated to facilitating intra-EAC and trade within the continent within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).