Truck drivers and Clearing and Forwarding agents who transport goods across the region are angered by corruption and unnecessary delays at Custom check points, roadblocks and weighbridges throughout East Africa.
The Arusha based East African Business Council in its recently launched report on the Business Climate Survey Index in the five EAC member states-Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi- has revealed that corruption and unnecessary delays were still major obstacles at custom points.
“Truck drivers and Clearing and forwarding agents estimated that 20 percent of about US $10 million lost each year through payment of bribes in various areas, was attributed to corruption at customs,” states the EABC briefing paper on ‘Business Environment in East Africa-Status and proposals on the way forward!’
The BCI survey conducted on behalf of EABC by The Steadman Group (now part of Synovate) interviewed 240 business leaders of both large and small companies involved in imports and exports within East Africa, 140 truck drivers traversing any two EA countries and 187 clearing and forwarding agents in the five member states.
The study found out that a single truck spends an average of 64 minutes at any customs point and such cargo vehicle could encounter at least four customs stops en-route its journey losing 4.2 hours in the process and in the long run one truck would have spent 218 hours at customs check per year.
There are about 5000 trucks ferrying goods across East African region which means between them, an average of 45,487 days are lost unnecessarily every year on customs delays. According to the survey nearly four out of ten business leaders indicated that corruption is still major obstacle at customs.
“More than 55 percent of truck drivers plying any route across the region are bound to encounter a request for bribes at customs and, as far as the EABC is concerned, bribe solicitation was higher for truck drivers departing from Tanzania, while the incidence of bribe paying is reportedly highest in Uganda.”
At least 54 percent of business leaders in East Africa expressed high level of discontent saying customs processes were either slow or too slow with Kenya fairing worst. Over 70 percent of Clearing and Forwarding agents perceive customs officials to be incompetent and providing unfair treatment. Almost all truck drivers complained of mistreatment at customs points.
The number of business leaders who stated that bribery at customs was major obstacle in business was highest in Burundi at 68 percent and lowest in Uganda at 26 percent.