By Patrick Beja
Truckers could create a transport crisis if they fail to install a cargo-tracking device on their transit vehicles by June 30.
Last week, only 400 trucks out of more than 10,000 targeted had been fitted with the electronic cargo-tracking device.
Truck owners say they are not opposed to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) rule requiring them to fix the tracking gadget on their transit vehicles, but were concerned about the cost.
KRA intends to use the cargo-tracking device to ensure truckers do not divert transit goods into the country.
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According to KRA, the tracking system would provide more information on cargo and make it easier to resolve cases of lost cargo.
The system would provide information on what time something happens to the cargo as the data will be received in control rooms.
On the other hand, transporters want more vendors of the tracking system brought on board to bring the cost of the device down.
A recent stakeholders’ meeting called by the Kenya Transport Association (KTA) singled out the cost of the system as prohibitive and appealed to KRA not to allow monopoly or cartel-like practice in the transport industry.
"We are not opposed to the tracking system, but we want more vendors so that the rates can go down," said the KTA executive officer Eunice Mwanyallo, after the stakeholders’ meeting. KRA has so far licensed Navisat Terematics to sell the tracking gadgets.
SGS recently got the green light to be a vendor for the gadgets, but has not yet began the service.
The transporters want other interested vendors to also come on board, even as the deadline to comply with the KRA rule approaches.
Navisat officials said it takes $850 (about Sh66,300) for tracking system reader, $250 (Sh19,500) for the seal and $100 (about Sh7,700) for installation. For every truck, it would cost Sh2,500 to service its gadget.
On the other hand, SGS said it would vend the system reader at $650 (Sh50,700) and lease the seals to transporters at Sh78 a month per truck and Sh1,500 for the service.
The transporters, who are set to meet the Commissioner of Customs this week, over the impending deadline saying KRA should have initially come up with a list of at least five vendors of the tracking gadget to enhance competition.
Selection of vendors
KRA assistant commissioner for Information and communication technology Collins Mukhongo defended the selection of vendors for the tracking device saying it was sourced through competitive bidding. He said KRA had asked firms to demonstrate how they could track cargo, but many failed to meet the set standards, dismissing claims that those licensed were hand-picked.
"The process of selecting the vendors was transparent. No firm has been favoured," Mukhongo explained.