PUBLISHED ON July 24th, 2014


Many traders are now demanding that the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) be expanded to cover the entire East African region so that they can fully enjoy the benefits of the new system even outside Uganda.

This follows the successful launch of the Electronic Cargo Tracking System in Uganda after it was also effectively piloted.

Kenya’s version of the system faced a couple of hitches hence derailing its take off while countries like Rwanda are yet to start.

In an interview, Al Hajj Jaffer Fajjallah, the Managing Director of Jaffer Freighters, a trade firm offering clearing and forwarding, warehouse and transport services, said that the system should start in Mombasa to cover the uncertainties in Kenya.

He said the system should be synchronized and implemented in all the member countries in the region to enable traders transacting in these countries to enjoy the security provided by the new technology system.

“We want it to work in the entire East African region. Those who have piloted it want the start of journey to be in Mombasa to be able to track the goods thought the transit route up to the final destination of the goods,” Fajjalah said.

He said government should also invest in internet infrastructure to avert the breakdown of fibre optic cables so that the flow of information of the System is not sabotaged by internet breakdowns or slow speeds.

Early this month, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) launched an electronic system that helps owners of goods, clearing agents and transporters to monitor the location and status of their cargo while in transit.

The ECTS will monitor imports, exports, re-exports and goods in transit to other countries in the region.

It will greatly improve the process of managing goods in transit by providing real time feedback to the business community and URA; reduce transit time and the cost of doing business.

The $5.2 million system was co-funded by the government of Uganda in partnership with the World Bank and Trademark East Africa.

The system, developed by B’SMART Technologies of Malaysia has been designed and customized to the needs of URA.

“When we started piloting the system in October 2013, the transit period through Uganda was seven days on average and has now been reduced to two days. This was partly because the drivers were making un-necessary stops along the journey,” Richard Kamajugo, URA Commissioner for Customs said during the launch of the system recently.

He added: “But now with electronic monitoring, this has changed. The system will track the movement of goods from the beginning to the end of the journey thereby enhancing security of international trade supply chain,” he said.

Transporters in Uganda indicate that on average the cost of a delayed truck along the transit route is $200-250 per day with the costs increasing the further inland the destination of the cargo, not only because of the distance, but also, because of the number of stoppages along the routes.

The major causes of transit delays include road blocks by police and customs officials, weigh bridges, border clearance and physical escorts; physical escorts have the effect of increasing the transit time from one day to three to four days which translates into $600 additional costs to the transporters.

Kenya was the first country in the East African Community to direct installation of the ECTS almost four years ago.

The Kenya Revenue Authority now requires importers, exporters, clearing agents and transporters to comply with the new regulations by installing electronic seals.

Kenya is working towards a situation where no cargo under customs control will be allowed to transit Kenya without the appropriate tracking devices installed.

KRA says all cargo on transfer to partner states or exports shall be monitored under the system. As an inducement KRA recently announced that vehicles fitted with the tracking system will enjoy preferential treatment such as a waiver of license fees among others. Business people say it is these systems that ease border point bottlenecks.

Source: East African Business Week

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.