Kabale — The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has installed a mobile cargo scanner at Katuna border post to ensure that what is declared on the import and export documents correspondents with what is being carried in the containers.
The officer in charge of URA customs office at Katuna border post, Mr Emmanuel Bamanya, on Monday said that the cargo scanner started working on June 13 and it will help in clearance of cargo trucks and containers without necessarily offloading them.
He explained that the scanner had initially not been installed at the border post because of the recent standoff with Rwanda when authorities closed its Gatuna border post for several months.
Mr Bamanya, however, explained that the plan to establish a mobile cargo scanner at Katuna border started before border closure because there was need since it was among the busiest border posts for Uganda.
"The cargo containers on trucks passes through the cargo scanner which scans all the goods contained therein, in a few minutes. The scanner quickly verifies the contents in the cargo containers and its operators ascertain whether what has been declared on papers is exactly what is in the cargo containers," Mr Bamanya said.
According the customs records, Katuna border post works 24 hours on a daily basis. During normal days before its closure in February, over 300 vehicles passed through every day.
The chairman of the clearing agents at the Katuna border Mr Sam Sserwanga last week welcomed the development saying that the mobile cargo scanner shall quicken the clearing of goods, adding that the manual method is not only time consuming but also tiresome for both clearing agents and the customs officials.
"Besides saving time in verifying imports and exports, the mobile cargo scanner shall strengthen the security of country because smuggled goods that threaten the national security shall immediately be detected before they cross into our country," Mr Sserwanga said, adding that the problem of smuggling will also be mitigated through this the new system.
Some of the imports from Rwanda through Katuna border according to Mr Sserwanga include metal scrap, hides and skins, plastic materials and soft drinks while exports through Katuna to Rwanda include agricultural products such as maize, and maize flour, dry cassava, beans, Matooke and Irish potatoes.
The manufactured goods such as cement, iron sheets, paints and other construction materials among others enter Rwanda through Katuna border post.
However, for Mr Samuel Mbabazi the councillor for Kinyongo ward in Katuna town council, the re-opening of the border has not benefited the local traders in the area since Ugandan goods are still being prohibited from entering into Rwanda and Rwandans are being stopped from entering into Uganda by the Rwandan authorities.
"The border has been re-opened for only transit goods that go to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)," Mr Mbabazi said, adding that his personal business of money changing has completely collapsed because of the restriction against Rwandans entering Uganda.