SADC and Europe launch East and Southern African trade and transport facilitation system in Botswana
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 was launched on 20 May at Tlokweng Border Post in Botswana.
Part of 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 grant from the European Union (EU) and more than €500,000 from the Federal Republic of Germany.
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 the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on behalf of COMESA, 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.
In his remarks, Honourable Thulaganyo Merafe Segokgo, MP, Minister of Communications, Knowledge and Technology for the Republic of Botswana underscored that the Corridor Trip Monitoring System 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, the SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration stated (in his remarks) that the CTMS further enhances collaboration among and between the Tripartite members of COMESA, EAC and SADC through increased information and data sharing and standardisation of procedures, including for testing, vaccination and 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 checkpoints.
“The system we are showcasing at Tlokweng will boost transport efficiency from Cairo to Cape Town,” said Mr Jan Sadek, the European Union’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.
The system builds on the achievements of the €21 million EU-funded Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Project (TTTFP). Key results of the TTTFP include the development of the Guidelines for Transit of Essential Goods during the pandemic state of emergency and the two Tripartite Multilateral Agreements (the Vehicle Load Management Agreement and the Multilateral Cross Border Road Transport Agreement). These agreements harmonise transport rules through a body of model laws, regulations and standards on vehicle loads, transport and road safety, and information on vehicles and drivers (axle load limits, driving licence, vehicle registration, vehicle dimensions and standards, third-party motor vehicle insurance, etc.).
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.