Shipping committee’s app to report delays, graft

Saturday May 2 2015

By GITONGA MARETE, TEA Special Correspondent

Residents of the East African Community can now use a new app — m-ship — to report delays and incidents of corruption along the major transport corridors and sea ports.

“The tool opens an avenue for feedback from users of services and trade routes, a crucial aspect of delivery of service. It will enable us to monitor effectiveness of service from the users,” said Kenneth Mwige, secretary-general of the Intergovernmental Standing Committee on Shipping (ISCOS), the developer of m-ship.

To report an incident, users will dial *290# via a Safaricom line.

Mr Mwige said the system would assist in identifying areas that needed improvement by collecting data and sending it to the relevant authorities for action.

“Users are not only encouraged to report incidents of corruption and delays but also tell us when there are no delays or incidents of corruption so that we are able to benchmark areas where officers offer quality service,” said Mr Mwige in an interview.

Since ISCOS is an initiative of four states — Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia — and plays a key advisory role on maritime matters, the system will cover the Central Corridor from Dar port to Democratic Republic of Congo and the Dar corridor that runs to Zambia, he said.

The Ksh9 million ($100,000) mobile application, will initially be free. At the moment, the only charges the system attracts are the normal SMS fees, he added.

For action on reported malpractices, ISCOS has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Commission on Administration of Justice.

The launch comes in the wake of concerns that with various players in the sector were committed to elimination of non-tariff barriers, new ones are being reported within the EAC.

In a recent report, the World Bank said freight and logistics costs account for more than 50 per cent of the cost of transport within the EAC, and NTBs are a major factor. In some countries, these costs can run to 70 per cent, it added.