Rwandan truck drivers have welcomed the new move by the Kenyan government to remove police roadblocks between the coastal port city of Mombasa and Malaba, near the Ugandan border.
Speaking in Kigali on Friday, Michael Kamau, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure said his country had removed the roadblocks to reduce non-tariff barriers along the Northern Corridor.
“Of course this comes as an advantage to us in a way that we shall see a reduction on time spent on the road while driving by the truckers and also on corruption,” said Theodore Murenzi, president of Rwanda Truck Drivers Association.
25 police check points, roadblocks:
According to Kamau, it is now up to Rwanda and Uganda to do the same to allow free movement of cargo along the corridor.
“As I speak now, there is not a single police roadblock between Mombasa and Malaba. That is now history,” Kamau told journalists during the official launch of Kenya Port’s Authority liaison office in Kigali.
The dismantling of the most cumbersome non-tariff barrier on the route came shortly after the recent meeting between President Paul Kagame and his counterparts Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda in Kampala.
The three Presidents issued some orders that are now being implemented.
Past studies have revealed that there were over 25 police check points, 15 roadblocks and 13 weighbridges along the Northern Corridor-with seven weighbridges between Mombasa and Malaba alone.
Yet the officers manning the roadblocks, check point and weighbridges reduced them to avenues for extorting money from truck drivers and causing unnecessary delays.
According to the 2007 assessment study on corruption along the Northern Corridor transit points by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the average bribe paid per transaction to a policeman or a customs official in Kenya and Tanzania is $30 (about Frw18, 000). In Uganda, it is between $100-150 (Frw60, 000-Rwf90, 000) per consignment of goods. The cumulative cost of bribes and delays to businesses in the region is staggering.