The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has caused jitters with its efforts to monitor flow of imports across East Africa, threatening roll-out of a shared cargo tracking technology meant to curb dumping of goods in the region.
Traders from landlocked states, upset with what they see as KRA’s “big brother attitude”, are slowly gravitating towards Tanzania which has resisted the anti-dumping technology since it was broached a decade ago.
“It doesn’t feel right that KRA keeps tracking your consignment beyond the Kenyan border,” Ms Jennifer Mwijukye chief executive of Unifreight Group, a Uganda-based clearing and forwarding firm, said in Kampala on Tuesday.
Ms Mwijukye, one of the private sector architects of the single customs territory, maintains that tax agencies in Kenya, Rwanda And Uganda have been charging higher fees for regional tracking system “instead of tracking cargo within the national borders.
“Kenya should have its seal untagged at the exit border post as long as the importer declared and paid all the taxes (demanded by country of destination) at the port of Mombasa.”
So far, the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS), funded by Trade Mark East Africa through a grant from the UK’s Department for International Development, has integrated transit cargo tracking platforms for Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
The aim is to also bring Tanzania and Burundi on board. The connected national revenue agencies are able to monitor goods, from the time it is tagged at the Port of Mombasa to the final destination.
According to KRA’s customs commissioner Julius Musyoki, the system has not only curbed cargo diversion and boosted safety of goods on transit but has also improved predictability and truck turnaround time.
It is also designed to send an alert whenever a truck stays in a particular spot longer than expected.
Tanzania, which belongs to both EAC and Southern African Development Community trading blocs, has however maintained that tagging cargo at every border is serving its case well.
“Regional tracking system is a long term project but we cannot replace what is serving us well with a system designed for Northern Corridor countries yet we have the highest number of borders to man,” Mr Ben Usaje, Tanzania’s Customs Commissioner told journalists in Dar es Salaam on Thursday. Joining the RECTS would grant KRA access to cargo flow between Tanzania and its SADC partners.
Tanzania is bordered by eight countries - Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique – which have overlapping membership in EAC, Comesa and SADC.
Mr Usaje, however, wants KRA to deploy its customs officers to the port of Dar saying the delay to do so has caused Kenyan traders to shun the facility over fears of clearance delay.