The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has declined to give truckers more time to install electronic cargo tracking systems (ECTS), with fears emerging that this will cause huge losses and heavy congestion at the port of Mombasa.
Domestic and transit cargo transporters were directed to install the ECTS on their trucks by June 30, this year.
But the Kenya Transport Association (KTA) has raised contentious issues regarding the pricing that are yet to be agreed upon, hence the delay in switching to the new technology.
Mr Collins Mukhongo, the assistant commissioner of ICT at KRA said only 400 trucks have been fitted with the ECTS.
There are over 20,000 trucks delivering cargo from the port, which must have the gadget.
Excisable goods exporters, manufacturers and Container Freight Stations (CFS) were supposed to install the ECTS in their vehicles by April 30, this year.
Transporters who met the two appointed suppliers said the deadline should be extended because KRA had taken too long to allow in more players and that the new entrants were likely to affect pricing.
Other truckers are opposed to the new technology arguing that transporters have already installed fleet management systems in their vehicles and should therefore not incur any more cost on behalf of KRA.
“We have noticed a remarkable difference in the pricing between the two suppliers who have rolled out. One is offering a flexible product and we believe that by allowing more players the cost will come down significantly,” KTA executive officer, Ms Eunice Mwanyalo, said.
Recently, KRA allowed two more players, SGS and COTECNA to supply the gadgets but the latter has not yet rolled out.
KRA had earlier appointed Navisat Telematics as the sole provider.
According to Navisat officials, a containerised truck will require a tracking reader at a cost of $845 ( Sh68,000) and two electronic seals at $250 (Sh20,000) each, which the transporters say is way above the market rate, with the tracking reader available at $200 in some countries such as Israel.
Truckers will also be required to pay Sh2,500 a month as a recurrent cost.
The electronic seal is an intelligent gadget which signals its presence and communicates with a tracking reader using Radio Frequency Identification- RFID technology.
The seal has a battery which can last five years.
The seal is used to secure the entrance of the container and openings of a tanker.
It has sensors to detect any tilts or attempted intrusion.
Tracking Reader is installed permanently on the truck cabin.
The reader interrogates the seal using RFID and reports the status to the control room in real time.
With the entry of SGS, transporters have a chance to lease instead of buying one component of the ECTS.
The company will issue the electronic seals on lease and manage them on behalf of the client, according to Isaac Kwoba, promotion manager, East and Southern Africa.
Transporters will only be required to install the tracking reader for between $650 and $750 (Sh52,000 to 60,000) and the seal will be hired at between one to four dollars per trip based on the volumes, Kwoba said.
For each truck, a Sh1,500 to Sh2,000 communication fee will be paid per month.
KTA will meet the commissioner of customs next week to seek the extension of installation deadline.
According to Mwanyalo, there are about 20,000 transit and domestic cargo trucks.
“It takes about three weeks to order the ECTS gadget and the remaining period is not be enough to install the gadgets,” she said.
KRA had in a public notice about two months ago said no cargo under customs control shall be transported in vehicles that do not meet the requirements.
Over 1,000 containers are delivered daily from the port and any disruption is likely to cause congestion since railway, the only other alternative is delivering less than six percent of the cargo from the port.