USD4.4 Million Cargo Tracking System will further reduce transit time, cargo theft and diversion of goods in transit
By Tullah Stephen
Revenue authorities’ from Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda have launched a system that will track goods along the Northern Corridor from loading to destination within the region.
Dubbed Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking (RECTS), the system will enable the countries to jointly monitor goods from end to end, easing cargo handling, improving revenue collection and reducing diversion of un-taxed goods.
The project, facilitated by an USD4.4million grant from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) through Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), eliminates the need for physical escort and monitoring of sensitive cargo, such as batteries, fuel, cigarettes.
RECTs comprises of satellites, central command centres in each of the revenue authorities in Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali, smart gates and rapid response units.
Transit cargo vehicles will be fitted with an electronic seal which will allow communication with the command centres giving real time updates such as vehicle location, speed, and if the container is tampered with or not.
Importers and revenue authorities can access this information. In case of any violation such as diversion from designated route, unusual long stop over, or attempt to open a container, the rapid response units stationed along areas identified as notorious for diversion of goods will be alerted .
Upon reaching the destination, RECTs process will terminate as soon as customs officer deactivate the e-seal in the system and then physically removing them from the containers. The service will be free as Revenue Authorities will meet all operational costs.
According to Frank Matsaert, TMEA CEO, transit trade is an important element of any economy and RECTs is one of the many innovations that TradeMark is supporting geared towards easing and improving local and international trade in East Africa.
“RECTs efficiency will ingrain fair terms of trade by creating a level playing field for both importers and local industries as it helps in eliminating diversion of cargo. Surely, with this strong partnership it is possible that we can reduce transit time from Mombasa to Kampala down to two days”
On her part, URA Commissioner General Doris Akol said the partnership with Kenya and Rwanda will lead to improved fair trade as goods that have not been taxed will not be diverted to distort the market. “This will benefit our traders and assure potential investors of level playing field in our region”.
TMEA Uganda Country Director Moses Sabiiti said, RECTS is building on the excellent results delivered by the first phase of the Electronic Cargo Tracking System in Uganda, which reduced transit days from an average of 6 days as at December 2013, to 1.5 days for truckers moving from Busia to Elegu, Uganda’s border with South Sudan.