Microjustice is making an effort to increase EAC integration and cross-border trade
It is under the Microjustice EAC Cross-Border Trade Pilot Project titled “Microjustice for EAC Integration and the Free Movement of Persons and Goods across Borders in Rwanda and Uganda” supported by TMEA Rwanda, that Microjustice4All, a Netherlands based foundation, Microjustice Rwanda, a local Non-Government Organisation, and a Microjustice team in Uganda contribute to increasing cross-border trade and regional integration.
From two small offices, Microjustice field staff help small-scale traders know and follow the procedures and requirements for cross-border trade and the free movement of goods and people.
”As a resident of Karusanga Katuna town council, I had no knowledge about a mere identity card being valued as a required document for a person to cross a border which is why I would spend 5000 -10,000 RWF on a temporary document every time I would be crossing to Rwanda, even to the most neighboring village for my businesses. Thanks to Microjustice’s awareness-raising program, my mind has been opened and I now use my ID when not exceeding Gatuna so I do not have to spend money unnecessarily.”
The case of this resident from Karuzanga, Katuna Town Council is one of many that Microjustice field staff deal with on a daily basis and how the organizations contribute to decreasing trade-related costs.
At the Gatuna and Katuna border, the Customs Departments receive many people and traders with goods who want to cross the border to trade. This calls for certain procedures to be followed while crossing the border. Despite these rules being officially published by the governments, information about these procedures is very difficult to find for small-scale traders. Due to this, some traders follow the wrong procedures after which their goods may be confiscated which increases the time and cost of doing business. In addition to this lack of knowledge, and despite efforts taken to eliminate Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), traders continue to face challenges (Non-Tariff barriers) to trade which increases the cost of doing business.
To provide a solution, the Microjustice group provides legal consults to small-scale traders and legal trainings to trade cooperative representatives at the Gatuna/Katuna border on cross-border procedures and requirements for persons and goods. The field officers also handle complaints and directly resolve problematic cases at the borderrelated to free movement of goods and people.
One of the border populations express genuinely the assistance received from the Microjustice team:
“One morning, I was crossing the border to go visit a relative in Cyumba Rwanda, but had forgotten my ID at home. So when I reached the border, I was bounced back by the Police. Fortunately I met the Microjustice Field Officer who helped me arrange a gate pass that enabled me to spend whole day at my relative’s place”.
Due to the direct engagement with traders on a daily basis, Microjustice is in a position to gain bottom-up insights about obstacles to trade and the status of Non-Tariff Barriers at the Gatuna/Katuna border. Microjustice shares these findings with the recently established NTB Eliminations Coalition which engages in evidence-based advocacy to lobby for the removal of critical NTBs between Uganda and Rwanda. To support the MoU between the NMC in Rwanda and Uganda, Microjustice will also establish a similar coalition in Uganda in January 2014
Microjustice works closely with a variety of stakeholders at the borders both private and public sectors, civil society organizations, interest groups and individual experts.
This pilot project is furthermore intended to generate lessons learned and best practices with the view to expansion to other border crossing in Rwanda, as well as expansion to other EAC members’ states, most notably where Microjustice Organizations are already present, such as Uganda and Kenya.
Feel free to visit one of the outlets in Gatuna or Katuna or the Head Office in Niza Plaza in Kigali.