President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni are this Saturday expected to officially launch a revamped border crossing in Busia, signalling an era of faster movement of goods and services.
Officially known as the One-Stop-Border Post (OSBP), the border crossing in Busia combines the traditional two stops for border processing into one, as well as consolidates other border control functions in shared spaces between the two countries for exit and entry points.
Cross-border business advisory organisation Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) facilitated the funding for this project estimated to have cost $12 million (Sh1.2 billion), with money coming from the UK Department of International Development (DFID) and the Global Affairs Canada.
Officials say this type of border crossing was influenced by desire to improve revenues by speeding up clearance for goods and people wishing to travel to either side of the countries.
OSBP is expected to reduce transportation time by saving up to a third of the current time taken, a TMEA assessment shows.
The project began in 2011, after a TMEA study showed Busia border crossing was one of the busiest in East Africa, at the time witnessing an average of 894 vehicles crossings per day.
The time to cross the border "was variable taking between a few hours and up to five days," TMEA report said then.
The delay discouraged export trade.
The Ugandan side was completed in May 2016 while the Kenyan side was done in July 2017.
Today, travellers entering Kenya from Uganda are cleared by both countries' Immigration officials sitting under one roof, saving time taken when folks had to make two separate queues to clear with Immigration.
It is estimated that crossing time for travellers from Uganda to Kenya has been reduced from one hour and 26 minutes on average to about 37 minutes.
Crossing from Kenya to Uganda reduced from 14 hours and 20 minutes to 3 hours and 40 minutes.
The OSBP includes offices for key agencies involved in clearing goods for export such as the Kenya Revenue Authority, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Immigration Department, and the Police among others.
It also includes passenger sheds, parking areas, security scanners and goods stores.
"It (OSBP) brings together immigration, customs and other government officials from the two countries under one roof, doing away with the need for trucks and persons to undergo clearance twice," a TMEA preparatory statement said on Tuesday.
"The OSBP ensures effective border control mechanisms and efficiency in border clearance processes. It contributes to boosting trade by cutting the time taken to clear goods between the two nations.
Today, an average of 5,108 vehicles pass through the border every week.
TMEA has been involved in two other OSBPs.
Others include the Holili-Taveta point connecting Kenya and Tanzania as well as the Mutukula OSBP connecting Uganda and Tanzania.