The Kenyan port of Mombasa is the starting point for much of the freight in East Africa and about 90 percent of goods distributed through the region are transported by road.
Known as the “Northern Corridor,” the main route stretches from the Mombasa port to Kigali, Rwanda and is the place that much of the freight disappears. Governments lose money on customs fees and taxes and everyone loses time from the unpredictable nature of the journey.
The East African Community and the governments of Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya will soon deploy a new system of geo-mapping, the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking system (RECT) which will allow officials and traders to monitor trucks from Mombasa to their destinations.
The satellite tracking system allows monitoring of individual trucks, detects detours and stops and tampering with vehicles. Rapid Response Units along the route provide real time detection and investigation of violations or delays.
The RECT is being introduced along with a centralized Document Processing Center that will also save time, which will mean that all appropriate tax is properly declared and will cut down on the time it takes for clearance at ports and at the destination.
Uganda Revenue Authority Commissioner General Doris Akol noted “It will lead to improved fair trade as goods that have not been taxed will not be diverted to distort the market. This will benefit our traders and assure potential investors of level playing field in our region.”
The entire system, financed by a 4.4 million dollar grant from the U.K. is expected to reduce transit time by a third, seal loopholes that lead to revenue loss, enable transporters to reduce their transit costs eliminate the need for physical escort and monitoring of sensitive cargo, such as batteries, fuel, and cigarettes.