Revenue Authorities in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have officially unveiled a Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTs) enabling them to jointly track the movement of goods from port to destination electronically – that is from Mombasa Port to Kampala and Kigali.
The system will reduce the cost of doing business by reducing transit time, enhancing cargo safety and helping traders to better predict arrival of goods. The service will be free as revenue authorities will meet all operational costs.
“The partnership with Kenya and Rwanda helps us monitor goods from end to end, easing cargo handling, improving revenue collection and reducing diversion of un-taxed goods into the market,” said URA commissioner general Doris Akol at the unveiling of the system at Uganda Revenue Authority offices at Nakawa, Kampala. “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 United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) has supported the project with a $4.4million grant through TradeMark East Africa.
RECTs consists of satellites, central command centres in each of the revenue authorities in Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali, smart gates and rapid response units. An electronic seal is attached on transit cargo vehicles and communicates with the command centres giving real-time updates such as vehicle location, speed, and if the container is tampered with or not. Importers, transporters, and the revenue authorities can see this information.
Rapid response units are stationed along sections of the Northern Corridor identified as notorious for diversion of goods. These rapid response units respond to alerts, received from the command centres, about suspicious behaviour like diversion from designated route, unusually long stop over, or attempt to open a container, which they investigate and resolve on the spot.
KRA, URA and RRA hope to work with other revenue agencies in the region to continue integrating their systems and further simplify trade.
How will RECTs work?
- At Departure:
Customs officer physically attaches an Electronic Seal or Ultra sound sensors for fuel compartments, to a container or any other authorised means of carriage and activates the E-seal in the system. This triggers electronic monitoring at the Centralised Monitoring Centres in the countries.
Gate Process: The Customs gates will be Smart Gates and will read the vehicle registration number using Automatic Number Plate Recognition and will automatically read the container number (using the Container number Reading Equipment). If the details match what was captured at departure the gate will automatically open for the truck to proceed with the journey.
- In Transit
A Centralized Monitoring Centre (CMC)
Three interlinked Centralized Monitoring Centres in Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali will conduct real time electronic monitoring of transit cargo on a 24/7 (twenty four hours a day, seven days a week) basis.
Rapid Response Teams (RRU’s)
The Rapid Response Unit team is composed of Customs Enforcement officers whose role is to respond to alerts.In case of transit violations, system alerts will be generated and the Centralized Monitoring Centre staff will analyse, for dispatch to the RRU’s for further action. This may include moving to the scene, supervising transfer of cargo in the case of accidents, transhipments, initiate investigations in the case of theft etc
- At Destination
The RECTS process will terminate when the Customs officer deactivates the E-Seal in the system and then physically removes the E-seal from the container or any other authorised means of carriage.