PUBLISHED ON July 25th, 2014


Technical failures arising from inconsistent information technology infrastructure is hampering the success of the Single Customs Territory, traders expressed during a one day training workshop on the recent regional customs developments and procedures.

The training attracted over 90 Ugandan shippers and freight forwarding agents, traders, Uganda Revenue Authority officials, members of Uganda Shippers Council who converged to keep abreast with the new recent regional customs innovations.

They were taught the dynamics of Single Customs Territory, Electronic Cargo Tracking System and Electronic Single Windows System, developments that have been introduced to aid trade within the region.

James Byenkya working with Ataco Freight Services explained that in the process of working with the system they experience abrupt failures like computer’s hanging up, lack of internet availability or slow internet.

“Sometimes you can be filling your paperwork the system hangs up on you for unspecified period of time, meanwhile you cargo is awaiting clearance, this breakdown causes unnecessary delays.

Sometimes the internet is off, you just cannot do anything, this should be worked on,” Byenkya said.

He also pointed out that the issue of corruption is still high among the officials of Uganda Revenue Authority which together with wrong attitude of government employee is part of the many human challenge they face as traders.

“You very well know if you need your things to move very fast you need to put something under the paperwork. People always want to eat.” Byenkya said.

Stephen Magera, The Assistant Commissioner for Trade, who briefed the trader on Single Customs Territory, said that as an agency, they are working on, what he called isolated cases of misconduct among their employees. He called on the affected trader to report these people to the Authority.

“The issue of staff misbehaving is a mind-set issue, people behave differently, if you have a name of someone who has asked for money to serve you, please give us that name,” Magera told the meeting.

On the issue of network breakdown due to poor infrastructure, Magera, said that they are working with other agencies because they are not mandated to lay fibre optic cable to provide internet hence the need to have the challenge addressed together with other partners.

“it used to take traders eighteen days to reach their destinations with goods, now it takes you four days, sometimes you have these delays but they have not taken you back to eighteen days, that’s where we find the comfort.” Magera said calling on traders to be understanding as they work on the infrastructural development to deliver a more reliable internet network.

He said they are doing an evaluation of what they have done with the network.

The coming into place of Single Customs Territory and Electronic Cargo Tracking System have extensively reduced the time spent while clearing, transporting and time spent while trader try to get goods from seas port of Mombasa to the mainland in Uganda and other neighbouring countries.

Source: East African Business Week

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