Uganda Revenue Authority and South Sudan’s National Revenue Authority (SSNRA) have resolved to implement joint border patrols and surveillance operations along the borderline. This is to address the vices of cigarettes smuggling and fuel round tripping that have become common at the border.
The revenue bodies will also revive the quarterly joint border committees to discuss border related issues.
All of this is embodied in a bilateral agreement that was signed between URA and SSNRA at the Elegu One Stop Border Post in Amuru District recently.
The agreement was penned down by URA’s Commissioner Customs Mr. Abel Kagumire and the SSNRA Acting Commissioner Customs Major General Gathon Jual Riek.
The agreed operations will be executed along the six common operation areas along the Uganda-South Sudan border; Elegu-Nimule, Ngomoromo-Pogei, Awenolwio-Lobone, Madiope-Tdetenya, Afoji-Kajo Keji and Oraba-Kaya.
Aside from the operations, Mr. Kagumire also interested the South Sudan delegation in URA Initiatives such as the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking system (RECTS) which has successfully been extended to Democratic Republic of Congo.
“When we release fuel in a tanker, it returns in jerrycans and now people have stopped buying from fuel stations. It has now become a security issue. Therefore, we are requesting that we work together to extend RECTS to Juba to ensure that what enters there, stays there,” he said.
He further suggested for South Sudan to fast track the possibility of joining the Single Customs Territory where all fuel dues are paid at the Mombasa and Dar-es-salaam ports then simply transits to its country of destination as a measure to curb round tripping.
On the recent concerns by truck drivers over Non-Tariff Barriers (fees charged by South Sudan), it was agreed that these be escalated to the relevant ministry for consideration and a complaint management desk setup at the borders of Nimule and Elegu to respond to stakeholders’ concerns.
URA and SSNRA will also conduct a joint management field visit to the border lines to understand the magnitude of the risk of fuel smuggling after which South Sudan will provide a list of licensed fuel importers in her country.
South Sudan is one of Uganda’s largest trading partners with trade between the two countries totalling to US$ 389 million in 2021 according to the Bank of Uganda report.
This has, however, been marred by challenges including insecurity, smuggling and strikes by truck drivers over fees among others. With the signing of this bilateral agreement, it is hoped that trade between the two countries will be streamlined and return to its original vibrancy.