orthern Corridor routes have recorded improved transit time during the last quarter of 2020 following reduced border crossing times because of various initiatives put in place to enhance seamless cargo flow and regional trade.
According to the Northern Corridor Dashboard Quarterly Performance Report for the period between October and December 2020, transit time from Mombasa to Kampala reduced from 167 to 131 hours.
It also reduced from 167 to 135 hours from Mombasa to Elegu; 214 to 187 hours from Mombasa to Kigali with transit time from Mombasa to Mpondwe going down from 216 to 160 hours.
“The positive trend was attributed to the opening up of borders by the Northern Corridor Member States and implementing the Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System (RECDTS),” Northern Corridor Transit Transport Coordination Authority said in a post published on its website.
RECDTS was launched in September last year at Malaba. The system has by early this month registered over 65,000 drivers across the East African region, Trademark East Africa (TMEA) said in an email response to queries of the project’s implementation status.
The system has over 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.
Over 40,000 drivers have received results at least once through the system, while over 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 gained smart phones and the system has eased border crossing.
Since declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in March 2020, transit time was on a steady rise. The worrying trend was due to measures put in place by the Member States, including lockdowns, curfews, social distancing, disinfection, mandatory COVID-19 testing and, sometimes, relay trucking to prevent transmission of the Coronavirus disease across borders.
The Mombasa Port and Northern Corridor Community Charter (MPNCCC) target for transit time from Mombasa to Malaba was 60 hours by December 2020, and from Mombasa to Busia, 65 hours by December 2020.
From the quarterly report, the average transit time improved significantly from 121 hours in October 2020 to 82 hours in December 2020 along the Mombasa-Malaba route. More than half of the trucks to Malaba recorded an average of 108 hours transit time in October and an average of 80 hours in December 2020.
The average transit time from Mombasa to Busia reduced from 115 to 83 hours, and from Mombasa to Taveta border reduced from 34 to 26 hours in October and December 2020, respectively.
In Rwanda along the Northern Corridor, the average transit time from Cyanika to Rubavu improved from 38 hours in October to 19 hours in December 2020. Kagitumba to Mururu route transit time worsened from 53 hours to 60 hours in December 2020.
In Burundi, under the ASYCUDA system, the average transit time from Bujumbura to Kanyaru-Haut and Nemba/Gasenyi (export routes) was inconsistent over the period varying from as high as 299 hours to a low of 240 hours on Kanyaru route.
The quarterly report points out that barriers to cargo movement still exist along the route, resulting in prevailing inefficiencies. Truck drivers from Bujumbura to Gasenyi/Nemba border took an average of 182 to 299 hours, 240 to 299 hours from Bujumbura to Kanyaru Haut, 39 to 46 hours from Kanyaru Haut to Bujumbura, and 21 to 67 hours from Kayanza to Kanyaru Haut, in October and December 2020, respectively. The report also records an average transit time of 84 hours from Kayanza to Gasenyi.
Although the opening up of borders by the Northern Corridor Member States and implementing RECDTS were crucial in reducing transit time, the region has invested immensely towards the reduction of transit time through improvement and expansion of road infrastructure, implementation of the Single Customs Territory framework for clearance of goods, Installation of One-Stop Border Post (OSBPs), among others. These initiatives have enhanced the efficiency of the corridor and, to no small extent, played a part in reversing the effects of Coronavirus disease on transit time.