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SADC and European partners launch new digital system to speed up cross-border truck movements

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A new digital information system to monitor and speed up cross-border truck movements and driver health checks at land borders in eastern and southern Africa has been launched.

Part of Team Europe’s Global Gateway initiative. Picture: Supplied

THE EAST and Southern African Trade and Transport Facilitation System was launched on Friday at Tlokweng Border Post in Botswana.

Part of the Team Europe’s Global Gateway initiative and response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Corridor Trip Monitoring System (CTMS) was funded by a €1.6 million (about R26.8m) grant from the EU and more than €500,000 from the Federal Republic of Germany, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said in a statement.

The CTMS has now been installed at major commercial border posts in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, along sections of three regional transport corridors, and will soon be installed in other eastern and southern African countries. The CTMS is spearheaded by SADC on behalf of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the East African Community (EAC) and SADC.

Once fully operational, the system will minimise the need for paperwork and speed up border procedures, reduce waiting and transit times and allow trucks to deliver essential goods more quickly, while ensuring health and safety measures under Covid-19 protocols, according to SADC.

Thulaganyo Merafe Segokgo, Minister of Communications, Knowledge and Technology for Botswana, underscored that the CTMS has proven to be a highly effective and efficient digital solution in the management of safe cross-border road transport and compliance to Covid-19 requirements by operators and drivers, and most importantly, enhancing trade facilitation and movement of goods across the Southern African region and beyond.

Dr Thembinkosi Mhlongo, SADC deputy executive secretary for Regional Integration, said that that the CTMS further enhances collaboration among and between the Tripartite members of Comesa, the EAC and SADC through increased information and data sharing and standardisation of procedures, including for testing, vaccination and for mutual recognition of Covid-19 test results and vaccination certificates, using a common monitoring and surveillance tool at all points of entry and in-country check points.

“The system we are showcasing at Tlokweng will boost transport efficiency from Cairo to Cape Town,” said Jan Sadek, the EU’s ambassador to SADC and Botswana, at the launch.

“Economic integration is in the EU’s DNA, and we are delighted to help build a transit system that will ultimately streamline trade and travel between all parts of Africa.”

The system equips border agents with hand-held devices to check, validate and register the Covid-19 health status of truck drivers and their crews, as well as the compliance of their vehicles with cross-border regulations and road safety rules.

Transport operators will use a custom-made app to upload vehicle and driver health information onto the CTMS website. This information can then be instantly accessed by authorised border and law enforcement officials in the country of destination and transit by scanning QR codes shown by drivers.

The CTMS also allows authorities and operators to monitor driver trip progression and deviations against pre-approved routes and designated rest areas, said a statement.

Aside from the truck drivers’ health status and road transport modules, many more functionalities could eventually be added to the system, including cargo and vehicle advance customs clearance, visa and passport information, and a security module to improve responses and support to drivers and vehicles involved in accidents and other incidents.

The Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme has developed harmonised road transport norms (multilateral agreements, laws, regulations, standards, IT systems) for the 25 continental beneficiary member/partner states of SADC, the EAC and Comesa.

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