20 October 2012

East Africa: We Are Sorry for Truck Pileup in Malaba, Uganda Tax Body Says

UGANDA Revenue Authority has apologised over the five day system failure that led to traffic snurl-up that stretched over 25 kilometers at the Malaba border inside Kenya.

The authority's assistant commissioner for audit Dickson Kateshumbwa said the incident was regrettable and assured member states that a permanent solution was being sought.

Addressing local and international journalists at the authority's Malaba customs offices, Kateshumbwa said URA was in the process of upgrading its systems with more robust ones.

The new measures are aimed at addressing the challenges faced by the current system that has seen clearance of trucks delayed for days and even weeks.

Kateshumbwa said the web-based system, known as ASYCUDA World, will be efficient and will be integrated with URA's other automated systems.

"Within the next 12 months we shall have migrated to ASSYCUDA World which will involve electronic lodgment of the data into the system," he said.

The URA official said they have also procured high tech servers and have in addition increased the internet service providers to two. Initially, the authority was only relying on Uganda Telecom (UTL) but they had brought Orange Telecom on board to act as backup in case UTL fails.

The Kenya Revenue Authority and URA have since initiated a joint clearance desk that has reduced the trucks pile-up by 8km in one day.

He said by 7pm on Wednesday, they cleared 1,100 trucks and a further 402 between 7pm and 6.30am on Thursday, adding that they were to clear 1,200 more trucks by the end of Thursday.

But even with this assurance that the jam had been reduced to less than 5km, the pile-up stretched up to 10km to Koteko by yesterday morning. Many trucks remained parked in Kanduyi and Bukembe trading centres for fear of being caught up in the jam at the border.

Kteshumbwa said priority was given to fuel tankers because of their sensitivity and team work between URA and Uganda National Bureau of Standards who were deeping and marking the oil.

He blamed the failure to clear more trucks especially at night on clearing agents whom he said go to sleep by midnight and thereby failing to observe the 24 hour operation.

Acting regional manager Eastern Asad Kisitu said they had a staff capacity of 70 which was able to handle the problem which had threatened to throw the transport system into a crisis with an imminent fuel shortage.

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