The trackers will allow officials and traders to monitor trucks travelling to and from the Kenyan port of Mombasa. A device will be attached to vehicles and is intended to help prevent hijacks and goods being tampered with.

Uganda, which pioneered the project, says journey times could be cut from three-and-a-half days to just 36 hours.

The geo-mapping, known as the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking (RECT), will apply to the main road stretching from Mombasa port to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, known as the “Northern Corridor”.

Officials will be able to monitor journeys on a map and be able to immediately detect any detours.

About 90% of goods through the region are transported by road with the risk of cargo being targeted by criminals. Customs officials say drivers have also been known to take diversions and siphon off freight, for example offloading coffee and adding stones to make up the missing weight.

There has always been that unpredictable aspect of not knowing whether your goods will reach or they won’t reach and that in itself is a very serious discomfort, now this will resolve that problem. The level of assurance guarantees the buyer abroad or the supplier from this end that what was sent will be what is contained in that particular container. The system will also mean that all appropriate tax is properly declared.

The amount of time spent clearing goods at Mombasa ports will also be significantly reduced, according to Bernard Kibiti from the Kenya Revenue Authority. The whole process would be more efficient and would result in less paperwork.

From Mombasa to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, a truck spends about 80 hours stuck at border posts. A lorry is stopped at either side of the Kenya-Uganda border, taking an estimated 40 hours to clear both, and the same time at the Uganda-Rwanda border. With the electronic tagging a driver will be checked and present their papers once at each border.

Three East African Community countries hope the seamless movement of goods enabled by the electronic cargo tracking system will attract even more investment to the region.

Our CFI agent comments in Kenya:

This project, if fully implemented, will reduce transit losses by 90%. The introduction of geo-mapping, known as the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking (RECT), in the “Northern Corridor” (the main road stretching from Mombasa port to the Rwandan capital, Kigali) will enable customs officials to monitor journeys on a map and to be able to immediately detect any detours.

We have handled several cases on behalf of underwriters in Uganda/Rwanda who have suffered huge losses due to a lack of a proper mechanism to monitor cargoes while in transit from the port of Mombasa to Rwanda/Uganda, as summarized below:

A company based in Kigali, Rwanda imported 112 flat screen televisions. The container left the Mombasa port with the shipper’s seals intact. However, only 64 flat screens were received at the consignee’s premises.

Another receiver in Uganda imported 36 pallets of paper reels. The conveyance left the Mombasa port with the shipper’s seals intact, but was found abandoned along the Mombasa – Nairobi highway. Upon opening it was noted loaded with sand although the shippers seals were intact

Another receiver Imported 400 bags of rice (50 kg). The container was received with the shipper’s seals at the port of Mombasa. However, it was delivered at the nominated CFS with tampered seals. Upon opening of the container for verification it was found completely empty.

We are confident that the introduction of this project will assist in monitoring both trucks and containers from the port of Mombasa to the final destination, thus reducing transit losses by a big margin.