Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and immigration officers have been warned against condoning the increasing vices of bribery and smuggling of goods on Mirama Hills and across the Uganda border to Rwanda.
The warning was sounded by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Mr. Alex B. Okello, last week when he officiated at the technical handover of the Mirama Hills One Stop Border Post (OSBP) to URA in Ruhaama Sub County in Ntungamo district.
The official commissioning of the two border posts (Kagitumba and Mirama Hills) will be done by the presidents of Rwanda and Uganda later in the year.
Mr. Okello called for transparency in whatever is done at the border post. “This is an investment that has been put up by the Government of Uganda to ease transportation of goods in and out of the country. Let’s make this facility work for the people, including the local community. Avoid bribes here from smugglers and ensure transparency to all users,” Okello stated.
He urged the combined work force of URA, Immigration, Police and other government officials at the border post to ensure efficiency of the border post and increase business in order to realize high revenue collections by URA, in addition to learning the tricks used by business men who try to smuggle in goods and dodging taxes. He commended the work of Dott Services Limited, the contractor, and challenged the government officials and the community to ensure the facility is well used and protected.
Dickson Kateshumbwa, the Commissioner of Customs in URA, said the facility will be open 24 hours, with all the staff under one roof to ensure faster delivery of services. He noted that the border post will not only boost trade but business as well, and asked the local residents to use the facility to develop their area. He too cautioned them against trading through illegal routes and smuggling.
The refurbished border post contains sections of customs, immigration department, goods inspection hall, clearing agency block and a police post, among others. The facility cost US dollars 7.8m to construct, financed by Trade Mark East Africa and Government of Uganda. Work started in July 2013 when the site was handed over to the contractors of Dott Services Limited.
The Mirama Hills border post was formerly avoided by business people because of inadequate facilities and a poor road network on the Uganda side, despite having a better terrain than the preferred Katuna border post. It is expected that Mirama Hills border post will now attract more traffic to and from Rwanda with the improved customs and other facilities, and the tarmacking of the Ntungamo-Mirama Hills road that is already underway.
The facility was constructed by Dott Services Ltd at a cost of USD 7.8m financed by Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) and Government of Uganda. Mirama Hills border is only 37km drives from Ntungamo town. Make use of the facility.