Transportation across the central corridor is set to be eased after the introduction of Transport Observatory Project that will see all trucks electronically monitored to detect the causes of delays.
The Transport Observatory Project (TOB) designed by the Central Corridor Transport Facilitation Agency (CCTFA) was launched on Wednesday in Tanzania to streamline the route where a quarter of East Africa’s total trade passes.
TOB involves government and private transport actors.
“This marks a critical new phase in upgrading a key route for East African Trade by identifying and mapping all unnecessary barriers to free flowing trade to create a platform that policy makers can use to overturn these obstacles,” Rukia Shamte, the executive secretary of CCTFA, said at the launch.
The development comes at a time when the region’s economy is surging and the need for smooth trade becoming more important.
The central corridor connects the east African hinterland to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam.
A similar initiative was last year established on the northern corridor that connects Mombasa port.
According to the beneficiaries, the project has tremendously improved transportation of goods.
Theodore Murenzi, the secretary-general of Rwanda Truckers’ Association, said as truck drivers they were optimistic about the new scheme.
He said the time of transportation on northern corridor has reduced ever since the introduction of Transport Observatory Project.
“The weighing bridges were reduced from eight to five between Mombasa port and Malaba with plans to decrease them to two. This has simplified movement; in our business, time is money and we hope that the new project on central corridor will also be of great significance,” Murenzi said.
Rwanda depends on both Mombasa and Dar ports for imports and exports.
According to Murenzi, Tanzania has committed to reduce the weigh bridges.
Currently, trucks have to stop at about seven weighbridges from Dar port to Nyakahura at Kagera River on the border between Rwanda and Tanzania.
The new project will continuously monitor the performance along the Central Corridor by identifying total time delays from all possible causes as a means towards establishing an evidence-based regional platform that can be used by the Central Corridor Transport Facilitation Agency as well as by the region’s policy makers.
The delays will be analysed using indicators of cause, location, date, time of day as well as parameters such as direction of travel, origin of vehicles and types of cargo.
Information from this process will be disseminated to partner states through various government agencies, private sector and civil society organisations as well as the media, to inform decision making, problem solving and policy formulation on the Central Corridor’s performance.
The data will provide informed and evidence-based opportunities for the development and implementation of policies to resolve these delays for cost effective operations.
The project is supported by TradeMark East Africa (TMEA).
“TMEA is proud to be associated with this project. All evidence shows that where trade flourishes, prosperity does too and this is a key step to streamlining the Central Corridor on which so many businesses and lives depend,” said Scott Allen, the TMEA deputy chief executive.
The new Kenyan government has promised regional countries to improve the performance of Mombasa port.
Recently, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered Mombasa port authorities to ensure they reduce delay time at the port, saying the current situation where containers take 18 days to reach Kampala from Mombasa was untenable.
Kenyatta directed the port authorities to ensure this is reduced to five days.