East African Community (EAC) partner states have agreed to start launching a regional electronic cargo and driver tracking system, mid next week, as one of the measures aimed at preventing further spread of the coronavirus disease, and minimize loss of lives.
The launch will run from August 12 to 31 at the various border points.
It will start at the Rusumo border between Rwanda with Tanzania, said Eng. Daniel Murenzi, the Principal Information Technology Officer at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
This comes following a successful pilot phase that started earlier on June 15.
Eng Murenzi explained that the Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System (RECDTS) will be launched at five border points.
After Rusumo on August 12 next will be the Mutukula border between Tanzania and Uganda on August 14; the Malaba border between Kenya and Uganda on August 21; Namanga border between Tanzania and Kenya on August 28 and finally, Kobero border between Burundi and Tanzania on August 31.
"It's also good to note that this new electronic drivers surveillance system will as well support other modes of transport, including cross-border busses and other vehicles, in our region, once they are allowed to start operation," Murenzi said.
Soon after the Covid-19 outbreak earlier this year, the EAC leadership activated a regional contingency plan for public health emergencies and events of public health concern whose implementation is championed by the EAC Adhoc Regional Coordination Committee (EARCC).
Through this body, a regional Covid-19 response plan was developed and adopted to ensure a well-coordinated regional response to the pandemic.
A related concept note, which The New Times has seen, acknowledges that the pandemic has upset all sectors in the world, impacting greatly on regional economies' productive, social and the transport sectors.
"Currently the region is facing challenges with trends showing increasing infections; loss of lives; GDP contraction, loss of jobs and livelihoods; production and supply chain disruptions; constraints with testing, availability and distribution of PPEs and challenges with coordination at different levels among others," reads the document.
The EAC Secretariat with the assistance of Trademark East Africa (TMEA) worked on and finalised the development of the new system which will help in sharing of EAC Covid-19 test certificate for cross border truck drivers or crews electronically.
The system also facilitates easy information exchange along transport corridors in the EAC and DR Congo.
The developed system is directly linked to the national laboratory repository for all Covid-19 results for each Partner State.
Only the negative results are automatically linked to the application and information is shared across all transport corridors through a secure mechanism.
The EAC has "distributed special terminals (tablets) procured with the support from TMEA to support operationalization of the system" and all busy borders will be equipped with the necessary terminals to allow easy movement of the truck drivers.Follow https://twitter.com/KarhangaJames