Last year in March, the Uganda Revenue Authority introduced plans to acquire a $5.2m electronic cargo tracking System (ECTS), and today the tax collector has launched the state of the art system to improve efficiency and cut the cost of doing business.
The whole ECTS has partly cost the tax payer over $5.2m (about Shs 13bn), and is supported by the Ugandan government, World Bank and TradeMark East Africa, a trade facilitation organization. The implementation process has faced a 5 month delay as it was supposed to be completed by November last year but has only gotten to see the day of light now.
The project was implemented by BSMART Technology and the system is expected to facilitate trade through timely execution and cancellation of customs bond guarantees for cargo in transit. The system will start to track high-risk goods like sugar, wines and spirits, textiles, explosives, and cigarettes. It will thereafter be rolled out other types of merchandise.
How will the Electronic Cargo Tracking System work?
In cases where several cars arrive at the Ugandan border the ECTS will help declare that a specific car is in transit to a different country. ECTS relies on a control center and automatic devices. All trucks will be equipped with these modem devices that will constantly give feedback to the team at the control center via a GPRS data. The feedback expected from these devices will include location of a vehicle, speed and status of the container and it doesn’t matter if the track is tampered with or not.
If the device gives information that is contrary to that declared earlier, such as, goods being dumped here instead of being exported, customs officials make a decision accordingly.
All the hustle involved in physically escorting and monitoring movement of goods will be a story of past as it was which was tiresome, time-consuming and needed a lot of manpower.
A whole new level of transparency
Both customs officials and transporters will be able to receive full-time and real-time updates, ushering in a whole new level transparency. 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. We expect the newly launched ECTS to ease work both officials and transporters.