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Malawi, Zambia simplify trade

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Mark Katsonga Phiri

Leaders of Malawi and Zambia Wednesday launched the multi-million United States Dollar Mchinji-Mwami One Stop Border Post (OSBP), which seeks to ease cross-border trade between the two countries.

OSBPs enable people and vehicles to stop in a single facility, where they undergo necessary controls following applicable regional and national laws to exit one State and enter an adjoining State.

Speaking during the launch of the two twin OSBP facilities, President Lazarus Chakwera said the OSBP is good news for travellers and traders.

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“It is good news for our economies. It is good news for regional cultural and economic integration. It is good news for investors. It is good news for neighbourly harmony and solidarity,” Chakwera said.

The Malawi leader said the OSBP brings convenience to travellers and drivers, who now need only to make a single stop to have documents processed.

Chakwera said the OSBP brings streamlined processes by consolidating border control functions so that exit and entry formalities are done simultaneously in a shared space.

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He further observed that the facility brings professional trust between border officials of the two countries through their shared use of border infrastructure and system procedures.

“It reduces border delays substantially by slashing the time it takes to cross borders by almost 70 percent which, in turn, means a reduction in transit costs.

“It promotes coordination in the facilitation of trade, the movement of persons and the improvement of security. It accords dignity to our peoples in the quality of public services delivered to them as they move between our two countries, including the enjoyment of a friendly [atmosphere],” Chakwera said.

While acknowledging the efficiency that would be brought by the OSBP, Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema bemoaned numerous roadblocks along the Zambia-Malawi Road.

Hichilema called for a quick meeting of ministers of Homeland Security of Malawi and Zambia to resolve the roadblock issue.

“You can remove some of the roadblocks without compromising State security,” Hichilema said.

Minister of Trade Mark Katsonga Phiri and his Zambian counterpart Chipoka Mulenga underscored the need for the two countries to enhance trade among their citizens.

Katsonga Phiri said there was a need for the two countries to remove restrictions that act as deterrents to trade.

With financial assistance from the African Development Bank, Malawi and Zambia have seen the construction of modern twin border facilities worth about $10 million each.

Through the facilities, traffic from Malawi now needs to stop on the Zambian side of the OSBP while traffic from Zambia into Malawi will be required to stop on the Malawian side only. Previously, traders were required to be cleared on both sides of the border.

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