Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania have taken the first step towards creation of a One Stop Border Post at the Songwe-Kasumulu entry point in a move aimed at facilitating the free movement of persons and goods between the two SADC Member States.
Officials from the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in March that formalized the creation of a single customs and immigration centre at their common border.
Under the MoU, the border posts of Kasumulu in Tanzania and Songwe in northern Malawi will be operating under one umbrella by the end of the year.
Under the one-stop border post scheme, travellers and goods are cleared just once for passage into another country in contrast with the current situation where they have to be sanctioned on both sides of the border.
This development is widely expected to address issues of delays, which are often experienced at most border posts as well as promote the smooth flow of goods through the removal of often perceived "restrictive" operational procedures at borders.
Speaking during the signing ceremony held on the sidelines of the SADC Council of Ministers meeting in Malawi, the Tanzanian Finance Minister Saddah Mkuya Salum said the development will help to reduce the cost of doing business between the two countries.
"Establishment of the single customs and immigration centre at the Songwe-Kasumulu border will not only reduce costs of doing business, but also cement the existing bilateral relations between the two countries," she said.
The Malawian Industry and Trade Minister, Sosten Gwengwe, said the common border post will bring efficiency of people, goods and services between the two neighbours.
He said the current arrangement where persons and goods are cleared twice to cross from one country to another was costly in terms of time spent at the border.
He was confident the proposed centre would facilitate smoother transportation of Malawi-bound cargo from Tanzania, since the former is a landlocked country.
Mkuya said experts from both countries would soon be meeting to develop a work plan on how to implement the project.
- SADC Today