he Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System (RECDTS) that was launched in September last year at Malaba has now addressed border crossing delays and is now seen as a major game changer in seamless flow of the cargo.
The system has now registered over 65,000 drivers across the East African region, Trademark East Africa (TMEA) said in an email response on queries of the project’s status.
The system has more than 25,000 registered in Kenya. A similar number has also been registered in Uganda while more than 3500 have been registered in Rwanda, TMEA further said.
More than 40,000 drivers have received results at least once through the system while more than 100,000 results have been processed through the system. Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) Chief Executive Office Mr Dennis Ombok, in a recent interview, said that most of the drivers have now acquired smart phones and the system has eased border crossing.
Whereas it took up to 10 days to get tests on manual systems, the Covid 19 tests once carried out allows the driver to continue with the journey and in case the test turns positive, they are quarantined in the next test point.
Every step, data and information about a driver is monitored at a common command center in Nairobi being run by the TMEA. This initiative is also being supported by the East Africa Community (EAC), National Governments and private sector. Other key private sector players such as the Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations (FEAFFA), the apex body of the Customs Clearing and Freight Forwarding industry in East Africa were involved in the mobilization of private sector logistics associations to participate in the review of the RECDTS system concept.
The EAC secretariat developed this application with the funding from European Union, Global Affairs Canada, Danida, Finland, Netherlands and the United Kingdom through TMEA.
This application was conceived to address the challenges manual certificates faced that included multiple testing of truck drivers at border crossing since there was no framework of mutual recognition of testing and test results across borders.
Cases of documents fraud were also reported where truck drivers would forge national certificates and use them to cross borders. Also, there were cases of conflicting test results – this would happen when the same driver tested in one country having negative results, would be declared positive after being tested again in another country.
In order to find a solution to some of these challenges, the Joint Ministerial meeting of EAC Ministers responsible for Health and EAC Affairs held on the 25th March 2020, directed Partner States to establish a surveillance system to monitor crew health and enable contact tracing.
The system enables digital verification of transit documents and travel authorization by law enforcement, customs and immigration at border crossings and other strategic locations along the transit corridors. It also facilitates intuitive analyses of data and surveillance of mobility related to cross border movements for better management of the pandemic in relation to cross border mobile population segments.
This system is riding on the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS) platform for tracking cargo movement along the corridors, which previously lacked a component of tracking individuals, which has become necessary in the wake of Covid 19 pandemic.
The Ministry of Health has an account for relaying test results and another for validating COVID-19 free certificates before allowing the drivers to proceed. The protocol requires a driver to be tested 48 hours before the start of the journey by an accredited facility in any country as long as the facility is configured in the system.
Once the testing has been done, electronic certificates are issued in form of a QR code for future scanning and validation by the health officials. No certificates are issued for positive results and in the event of such cases, the country’s health protocols are applied.
By clicking to start the journey, the truck driver’s mobile phone will become a tracking gadget and will be visible to command centers till the end of the journey. The command centers share information in real time.