As part of government efforts to combat the spread of the dreaded COVID19 disease, all truck drivers driving into Uganda via the different border points are required to present themselves to the Ministry of Health officials for testing.
On the 12th of April, 2020 a truck driver enroute to Southern Sudan went through the same procedure before clearance by immigrations and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to proceed with his journey.
24 hours later, the results came back and one of the drivers tested positive. The hunt for the positive immediately kicked off.
The Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS) was used to trace the actual movement of the driver from Malaba OSBP up to Corner Kamdini Customs Check point where he was intercepted.
Implemented by Revenue Authorities, for Uganda – URA, the RECTS project is funded by the Department of International Development (DFID) through TradeMark East Africa. It is now operational in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and DRC.
RECTS utilizes the Global Positioning System (GPS) to trace the movement of trucks from their point of entry in a country right up to the point of exit to curb cargo dumping among many other risks along trade routes.
Following this interception, a team led by Hon. Amelia Kyambadde Uganda’s Trade Minister who is also the Chairperson of the National Covid19 Taskforce, met at the URA headquarters to further discuss how they can take advantage of the Electronic Cargo Tracking System in the fight to combat the spread of Covid19.
Kyambadde was accompanied by Gen. Katumba Wamala the Co-chairperson of the Taskforce who is also the Minister of Works and Transport together with other dignitaries from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry Of Health.
The URA Commissioner General, John R Musinguzi took the team on a tour of the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System Control Centre and they witnessed how trucks are electronically trailed in real time from the points of entry up to when they exit the country. They also visited the Central Command Targeting Center where they witnessed real time monitoring of activities at the borders.
This monitoring can further provide information to the National Covid19 Taskforce on what is happening at the borders in terms of whether people are practicing and adhering to the medical guidelines issued such as social distancing, washing and sanitizing their hands, who is sneaking into the country and so much more.
The Taskforce together with URA management further discussed how to utilize the tracking system to ensure safety of truck drivers in a bid to combat the spread of Covid19.
“RECTS tracks the driver’s phone and the vehicle. Whereas the system was originally meant to avert the diversion of transit goods into the home market, RECTS has of recent proved that it can be a solution to track drivers in this COVID-19 pandemic. We have received a request from URA for more electronic seals to enable them track more vehicles in transit,” Moses Sabiiti, the TradeMark Country Director for Uganda and South Sudan noted following this development.
TradeMark EA through its CEO, Frank Matsaert a few days ago announced that it will spend USD 20 million on the SAFE TRADE Project aimed at ensuring that Trade continues without endangering lives. This USD 20 million will be shared by the over 11 countries TradeMark EA it operates in, depending on each country’s unique needs.
We have since understood that Uganda’s share of the USD 20 million will be announced before or around the 1st week of May. Part of this allocation will be spent on buying RECTs devices commonly referred to as seals.