By Stephen Ilungole and Reuben Olita
Uganda Revenue Authority ASSYCUDA system failure has led to traffic pile up at the Malaba border post that has stretched over 15km inside Kenya. ASSYCUDA is a computerised customs management system.
Abel Kavumiru, the URA Malaba supervisor, confirmed on Tuesday that the system had been since Saturday, making it impossible to clear trucks.
“The problem has affected operations in Uganda, but efforts are being made to ensure normalcy returns within the shortest time possible,” Kavumiru said.
He said the parking yard was full, restricting trucks from Kenya to cross into Uganda.
The situation is threatening to throw the transport system into a crisis with the imminent fuel shortage, owing to pile up of fuel tankers on the Kenyan side.
Petrol tankers have remained on the Kenyan side since Saturday as residents fear for a catastrophe should one of them explode.
Teso district commissioner in Kenya, Josephine Onunga, said Kenyan authorities were consulting with their Ugandan counterparts to ensure that the problem was solved as soon as possible.
Onunga said the delay in goods clearance at the Kenya-Uganda border towns of Malaba and Busia was impacting on regional economy.
Kenya International Freighters and Warehousing Association Malaba branch chairman, Stephen Otwane, appealed to URA and the Kenya Revenue Authority to find an urgent solution to the network problem.
He said the situation was worse for petrol tankers, which had piled up on the Kenyan side since their documents need to be entered into the system for verification.
Truck drivers said the network breakdown had made them incur extra costs.
“We have encountered numerous challenges on the way owing to thefts and siphoning of fuel. How long shall we continue suffering from problems not of our own making?,” they asked.
Teso deputy Police boss Francis Wahome said they had increased night patrols to ensure that the trucks and their drivers were safe from criminal gangs.
However, Paul Kyeyune, the URA corporate affairs manager, said late last evening that the system was back to normal.
“It is up and running. The only challenge is that there is a backlog because of the long pile-up and because many people are now logged on. It kind of hangs up,” he said.
“But what we are trying to do is to clear Malaba as fast as possible until 11pm. We are also trying to block Kampala. Our focus is really Malaba. We believe everything will be back to normal by tomorrow (today),” Kyeyune explained.
Over $4m has recently been injected in URA’sAutomated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) World.
URA had previously transacted business via the ASYCUDA++, which is being phased out under the modernising compliance programme.
Developed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, it over time evolved from the original ASYCUDA 2.7.
URA attributed the change to the desire to provide better services.
It said ASYCUDA World will be efficient as it is web-based, integrated with URA’s other automated systems and other government agencies with interests in customs business.
URA said the new system has increased capabilities for accounting, post-clearance audit, statistics and information management, which are crucial for decision making. URA stated in an earlier statement that ASYCUDA++ was not flexible and did not provide for changes if a need arose, challenges the new system addresses.