Trouble has been looming in the Port of Mombasa amid the ongoing crisis as importers are now faced by a lack of cargo tracking seals that disrupting regular operations. This problem emerged after the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) made the decision to suspend the signing of the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) certificates for eight cargo tracking companies.
The eight firms that have fallen victim to the dismissal, have been seeking an audience with KRA for about two months now since the suspension began. Without the certificates, the companies, through the Electronic Cargo Tracking Systems Providers Association of Kenya (EPAK) complain that they have been forced to halt all their services of monitoring cargo resulting in huge losses. The eight private seal vendors include Automated Logistics, Borderless Tracking Ltd, I Spy Africa, Navisat Telematics, Oak & Gold Ltd, Rivercross Tracking Ltd, SGS Kenya and Track N Trace Ltd.
“Apart from having truck drivers’ menace due to measures set to contain the spread of COVID-19, we are also experiencing problems in tagging our cargo due to miscommunication between private tracking companies and KRA,” Abdalla Khamisi, an importer based in Mombasa told Business Daily. “If this is not resolved on time, we are likely to have congestion in different cargo storage facilities which will also add storage charges to us.”
KRA, on the other hand, has explained that this action was followed by various allegations against the firms on failing to monitor cargo as required. The Authority did note that a number of the firms have been carelessly dumping cargo along the Nothern Corridor leaving Kenyan traders deep in losses. KRA did also explain that it will be adopting the new Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking Seals (RECTS) which will be provided directly by the government and start rolling out by June 30th, 2020.
However, EPAK has expressed suspicion that the action could be much more than just adoption of a new tracking system. “We suspect there is an intention to make vendors appear incompetent yet it is KRA who does not reconcile its reports on a daily basis leaving questions how cargo worth of billions can be lost on their watch,” said EPAK executive officer Flevia Gekone.
To explain further, the KRA did issue a statement emphasising that the new RECTS seals have already been procured and will be used to track all imported cargo from now on. “KRA would like to assure key stakeholders that we shall work round the clock to clear any backlog of waiting transports. The seals are offered to the stakeholders free of charge under KRA RECTS initiative,” read the statement.
The new system will involve an online platform that will enable real-time tracking of the cargo all through to its final destination. This will be adopted in accordance with the East African Community Management Act (EACCMA) 2004.