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Economy

Kenya joins Uganda, Rwanda in common cargo tracking system

A container freight station at Mombasa port. PHOTO | FILE
A container freight station at Mombasa port. PHOTO | FILE 

Kenya has joined East African neighbours Uganda and Rwanda to launch a common cargo tracking system intended to reduce the cost of trade and check tax evasion.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) on Wednesday launched the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System, which enables real time tracking of transit cargo from Mombasa port to its destination through an online platform monitored in the three countries.

KRA commissioner general John Njiraini said the new system would be operational by the end of the month to replace the current tamper-prone Electronic Cargo Tracking System.

“Unlike the current system where we use multiple vendors to install the tracking and which we can only trace up to the border point, this one allows three countries to monitor the cargo in real time hence limiting the opportunity for any collusion to evade tax. It is a game changer in the cross border trade and will go a long way to safeguard Kenya as a major transit point for cargo in this region,” said Mr Njiraini.

Kenya began piloting the system with 1,500 gadgets so far. Uganda and Rwanda, which have both launched the system have the same number of devices although it requires at least 7,000 such gadgets to fully monitor cross-border business.

There are also plans to roll out the system in South Sudan, Tanzania and ultimately to destinations outside the EAC bloc, including DRC in a bid to eliminate customs border checks and deal with cargo diversion that existed due to border changeover processes.

Transporters, who were required to pay Sh120,000 to install tracking devices on their truck engines as well as pay a monthly fee of Sh10,000, will also be relieved of the burden as the electronic seal will be free.

The magnetic gadget is attached on the container’s rear and armed before the lorry leaves the port. It contains details about the container and lorry registration details including the driver’s contacts.

Any diversion from the transit route is viewed from the command centre in the three capitals with a team of customs officials and the police on patrol at different check points to respond to any violations triggered by the system.

Kenya plans to have at least 12 check points where the response teams will be stationed with five points at Mazeras, Voi, Machakos, Sameer Park on Mombasa road as well as Naivasha and Kericho.

Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association national chairman Auni Bhaiji said the targeted reduction on cargo transit time to Kampala from the current 4.8 to two days will be a big boost to the ease of doing business.

“For us, the speed of completing deliveries and the ease of bond cancellation are key wins in the system. We have more time to focus on the business because we will not have random stops by different teams asking for documents since the tracking is live and everything is already transparent enough with this,” said Mr Bhaiji.

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