A goods-laden vehicle arrives at a Uganda border where a declaration is made for transit to another country. But after clearance by customs officials, it disappears before exiting and the goods are sold on the local market. This causes undue competition as such goods are often low priced. And if that status quo does not change, local industries are affected gradually. Although such practices have occurred in the past, the future is bright owing to the introduction of a system that can track the movement of goods and give real-time updates.
Costing $5.2m, the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) has been introduced by URA to improve efficiency and reduce the cost of doing business. The government, World Bank and Trade Mark East Africa, a trade facilitation organization, have supported the project, which is expected to be ready for testing by the end of August, and be fully implemented by end of November. URA Commissioner General Allen Kagina and BSMART Technology boss Stephen Teang this week signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the plan. This was at the URA head office in Nakawa, Kampala.
Kagina, who referred to it as a “landmark initiative”, praised the fact that customs officers would have regular updates regarding merchandise. She also hailed the fact that the provider would train staff, giving them much-needed skills.
The system will facilitate trade through timely execution and cancellation of customs bond guarantees for cargo in transit, making the transit process faster, more efficient and secure. Furthermore, this will enhance trade facilitation and business competitiveness countrywide.
How it works – ECTS relies on a control centre and automatic devices. The devices are attached onto a truck and constantly give feedback to the team at the control centre. Among others, the feedback includes include location of a vehicle, speed and status of the container (truck tampered with or not). If the device gives information that is contrary to that declared earlier, for example, goods being dumped here instead of being exported, customs officials make a decision accordingly. The system will be pioneered on high-risk goods like sugar, wines and spirits, textiles, explosives, and cigarettes. Thereafter, it will be rolled out to other types of merchandise.
Advantages – The system enables parties like customs officials and transporters to receive fulltime and real-time updates. URA has over the years introduced initiatives such as One-Stop Border processes and 24-hour operations at the major entry/exit points but the business community has sometimes not realized the benefits due to the numerous unwarranted stopovers. ECTS makes this a thing of the past. Source: The Observer (Kampala)
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