“The EAC’s northern corridor of Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya are currently using eCTs and want Tanzania to completely abandon its current electronic cargo tracking system (TANCIS) and adopt the new one,” Ben Usaje, Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) Commissioner for Customs and Excise, said.
TANCIS has replaced the previous customs management system - Automated Systems for Customs Data Management (ASYCUDA).
Commissioner Usaje however underscored the need to harmonize the eCTs within the EAC if member states are to facilitate the transit of goods and enhance cargo safety.
“Lack of interface in the electronic cargo system in the EAC is somehow hampering proper implementation of the Single Customs Territory (SCT) towards a full customs union,” said Usaje, noting that efforts are ongoing to see how both systems can work together.
He said technical teams from both sides should meet to discuss how to implement a common eCTs, currently used by Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda.
Tanzania and Burundi are the only EAC partner states which have yet to approve the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (eCTs), which was launched in Rwanda in 2017. Burundi is still using ASYCUDA.
Usaje pointed out that Tanzania opted to continue with TANCIS since it is a multi-vendor system which is not owned by the government.
He however noted that Tanzania has a good number of cargo passing through its ports compared to the total goods in the northern corridor.
He was speaking to a group of journalists from various media houses within the EAC who are on a media tour that focuses on the implementation of Single Customs Territory (SCT), Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) as well as challenges and successes of the East African pharmaceutical industry.
The tour is supported by the EAC Secretariat in collaboration with the German International Cooperation (GiZ) and the East African Business Council (EABC).
Usaje criticized Kenya for failure to post customs officers at the Dar es Salaam port to facilitate cargo going to the country, saying Tanzania already has its customs representative at Kenya’s Mombasa port.
“We have customs officers from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. Having them at our port simplifies cargo clearance and stimulates business among the countries,” he said.
EABC Executive Director Lillian Awinja was concerned that delays by Tanzania and Burundi in not approving the eCTs and other bottlenecks including non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are impending efforts towards achieving a full-fledged customs union since it aims to eliminate restrictive regulations on goods moving from one border to another.
CTI Policy Specialist (Trade) Frank Dafa recommended harmonization of EAC taxes, fees and charges to ensure a successful customs union, saying eCTs has reduced the cost of doing business whereas turnaround time is now between three and five days from Tanzania entry points to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, compared to 21 days previously.
Dafa decried the high cargo tracking costs met by drivers moving from Tanzania to other customs territories since TRA covers for the transit of goods within the country.
He said drivers going beyond the borders are required to buy tracking devices from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) at $1,000.
The STC was adopted by the EAC Council of Ministers in 2013. It has reduced paper documentation by 80 per cent as well as facilitating all the ports within the bloc to operate 24/7.
With STC physical inspections are only done at entry points.