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Despite the June deadline to install an electronic cargo tracking system in all trucks or show commitment, only 450 had complied by July 2.But trucks without it were nevertheless allowed by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to load cargo from various points in Mombasa.

“We have insisted in our meetings with Kenya Transport Association (KTA) that we shall not extend the deadline, and it’s only those trucks that have fitted the gadgets and those who have paid for their installation that will be allowed to load cargo,” insisted the authority’s commissioner in charge of communication Kennedy Onyonyi.

According to KTA secretary Paul Maiyo, the decision to let the trucks load cargo without the tracking system is prudent since there are a lot of outstanding issues and constraints that made the deadline impossible to meet.

The taxman and the association have held a series of meetings since the deadline was announced earlier in the year over the pricing and how to implement the system but have not struck a deal.

All importers, exporters, clearing agents and transporters of goods under custom care were required to install the tracking equipment by 30 April this year. Transit cargo truckers were supposed to have done the same by June 30.

Tamper-proof seals and physical escorts were to be phased out and replaced by electronic seals to curb diversion of goods into the local market and also to prevent theft along the Northern Corridor.

The electronic seal is an intelligent gadget that signals its presence and communicates with a tracking reader using radio frequency identification technology. The seal is used to secure the entrance of the container and openings of a tanker and has sensors that can detect any tilts or attempted intrusion.

Following an impasse in talks, the association now wants the taxman to absorb the cost of the reader as it did with Electronic Tax Registers.
“KTA on behalf of the road haulage fraternity wishes to inform you that we shall not finance the government’s efforts in revenue protection except through the payment of taxes as every individual and corporate citizen,” said the association in a June 25 letter to the commissioner of customs.

KRA had approved one supplier — Navisat Telematics — to install the systems, which transporters said was the reason the cost was high. However, last month SGS was also given the nod.

According to Mr Onyonyi, the market was open to any supplier who is ready to come up with a sample that fits KRA specifications.

According to the Navisat model, a containerised truck will require a tracking reader at a cost of $845 (Sh68,000) and two electronic seals at $250 each (Sh20,000), which the transporters say is way above the market rate. Truckers will also be required to pay Sh2,500 per month as a recurrent cost. For oil tankers, Navisat is installing three mechanical hatches, three valves and a total of six seals, which brings the cost of installation to Sh195,000 per tanker.

On the other hand, SGS is leasing seals when required and will manage them on behalf of the client, according to Isaac Kwoba, the firm’s promotion manager, East and Southern Africa.

Transporters will only have to install the tracking reader for between $650 and $750 (Sh52,000 and Sh60,000) and hire the seal at a cost of between $1 and $4 per trip based on the volumes, Mr Kwoba said.

For each truck, a Sh1,500 to Sh2,000 communication fee will be paid per month. For tankers, SGS technology will require only one seal which cuts cost of installation by more than a half.

“We have noticed a remarkable difference in the pricing model of the two suppliers who have rolled out, a transporter said.

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