UGANDAN importers and exporters will no longer need to brave the long journey to Dar es Salaam to clear their shipments, thanks to a move by the government to open a dry-port in Mwanza.
President John Magufuli said, yesterday, during a joint press conference with his host Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, at Masaka State Lodge that the two countries need to boost economies through trade relations.
The two leaders directed ministers responsible for trade from both sides to discuss the best ways to boost business, for the benefit of ‘wananchi’ and the nations at large.
The two leaders were speaking on the issues they had discussed during their meeting in Masaka. President Magufuli is in three-day state visit in Uganda. He said that in a bid to boost trade between the two countries’ traders, goods that will be shipped in the country through Dar es Salaam Port will be received in Mwanza by Ugandan traders.
“This means that Ugandan importers, clearing agents and exporters will be able to clear goods in Mwanza without having to travel to Dar es Salaam,” said the Head of State. President Magufuli said both sides need to put more efforts to make sure there is improvement in doing business.
He said the two countries have a good historical relationship but they have not been doing well when it comes to business relations and development of economies. He said trade between Tanzania and Uganda is on average of 200bn/- annually, which is low compared to available opportunities and good relations between the two countries. According to President Magufuli, Ugandans’ investments in Tanzania amount to only 47 million US dollars and employ 146,000 Tanzanians.
He added that likewise Tanzanian investments in Uganda are also low and thus there is need for the two sides to work hard to bring positive changes. “We are doing everything in our capacity to remove any kind of barrier that slow down businesses, we must improve trade relations,” he noted. Moreover, President Magufuli added that his government has renovated the central railway to enable easier transportation of goods from Dar es Salaam Port to Mwanza.
“We have refurbished MV Umoja which is capable of carrying a big number of containers, this means Ugandan consignments will be easily delivered to Uganda unlike before,” he said. He added that Ugandan consignments from Dar es Salaam Port will be reaching Uganda easily from Mwanza Port to Portbell, which is only 11 kilometres to Kampala.
“The government of Uganda has agreed to repair 11 kilometres of road from Portbell to Kampala, this will ease transportation of goods from the Port to various parts of Uganda,” he said. The Ugandan President Museveni said the two leaders had a great meeting in which they discussed various issues aimed at boosting both diplomatic and social-economic relations.
He said among the issues include cross-border energy projects, improvement of roads, livestock and issues related to customs, which went along with the launching of a One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) at Mutukula on Thursday.
The border post is expected to improve physical border infrastructure, harmonised working procedures, faster customs processing and information sharing which will reduce waiting times.
President Museveni commended President John Magufuli for a job well done in fighting corruption in the country, saying he was keenly following the incidents in his neighbouring country. “I would like to congratulate President Magufuli for fighting corruption in Tanzania. He has added a new dimension in this war,” he noted.
He added: “I am picking new things from President Magufuli; you will soon hear me acting differently in this country,” Earlier, President Magufuli said his government has been battling corruption in the country and that so far, various measures including establishment of anti-corruption court have been taken. He said the government has successfully managed to conduct academic certificate verification exercise and at least 12,000 were found with fake certificates.
He added that 20,000 ghost workers and 65,000 ghost students were also revealed during the verification exercise. Moreover, the Head of State added that 56,000 undeserving households were receiving fund from Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF).