By Sarah Munthali
Mchinji: President Lazarus Chakwera has said the Mchinji/Mwami One stop border post (OSBP) will enhance regional, cultural and economic integration between Zambia and Malawi.
Speaking at the joint official opening ceremony of the Mchinji-Mwami One stop Border post between Malawi and Zambia on Wednesday, the President said the opening of the OSBP facilities in the two countries, will ensure that the bond between the two countries remains strong and special.
“This One Stop Border Post is good news for travellers, for traders and for our economies. It is also good for investors for harmony and solidarity. After all, the bond that exists between Malawi and Zambia, is so deep and so rich that it transcends the artificial barriers that have been created to separate us,” He added
The President said the OSBP would not only ease facilitation of trade but also improve security for the people of the two countries as they will be serviced in a friendly environment in the new border facilities.
“The new OSBP will accord dignity to the people through quality of public service delivered 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 environment occasioned by these magnificent and beautiful buildings we are inaugurating today,” He said
The President said the government is developing similar one border facilities in Songwe, Dedza and Mwanza border.
“We finalised construction of similar facilities at Dedza Border with Mozambique and we are almost done with the facility at Mwanza border. Meanwhile, construction of Songwe border facilities on the border with the United Republic of Tanzania will commence next month, while plans are underway to start construction of Muloza and Chiponde borders with our neighbouring country of Mozambique,” He explained,
The President reiterated the call he made at Mkaika Zambia during the Kulamba Ceremony in August 2022, on the need for the two countries to introduce the use of National Identity cards (IDs’) as cross-border permits to ensure easier facilitation of movements for the citizens.
On his part, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said the Mchinji/Mwami OSBP facility will spur higher trade flows and economic activity in the Nacala Corridor.
He said there is need for the two countries to reduce road blocks and check in points on the roads to ease movement of goods and people.
“I call on ministries of home affairs in the two countries to ensure that they reduce some of the road blocks which delay movement of people, in the same vein this should not compromise on security and encourage trafficking,” He explained.
Minister of Trade and Industry Mark Katsonga Phiri said the completion of the two projects by the Chakwera and Hichilema regimes signified the importance the two governments attaches to development projects that improve people’s livelihoods.
“The Chakwera government took over this project in 2020 when the construction was at 45 percent, I am glad the current government supported the project until it was complete in 2021,” He said.
The minister then called for removal of tariffs which hinders trade between the two countries
Zambian Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Chipoka Mulenga pledged his governments commitment to ensure that the OSBP facilities achieve the purpose it was intended for, by reducing delays people encountered at the borders.
. The two facilities in Mchinji and Mwami were constructed with financial support from African Development Bank, the European Union (EU) and COMESA.
Malawi and Zambia launched the OSBP joint project in April, 2015 in Chipata, Zambia where, among other things, the two countries agreed to put in place the legal framework and established joint OSBP implementation structures which included the Joint Technical, Joint Steering Committee and the Ministerial Committee to oversee implementation of the OSBP project.
The Mchinji OSBP construction was commissioned in 2018 and completion was expected in June 2020 but delayed due to a number of factors including Covid 19. The contractors handed over the facility in February, 2021.
One Stop Border Post (OSBP) Concept is a border facility that combines two stops of adjourning border controls into one. The Concept is aimed at reducing the number of stops and processes associated with cross border transactions to ease trade and movement of people.