Tanzania to Adopt Electronic Inventory Tracking Technology
Inventory management through electronic inventory tracking systems could be the most effective and relatively less costly option and one of the key strategies to be adopted by both public and private institutions in the efforts to reduce loss as well as unnecessary expenditures.
There is a growing interest for the public institutions in the country to adopt tracking technology in order to control the management of its inventories but also cutting down expenditures particularly in fuel consumptions in public vehicles.
One of President Jakaya Kikwete's directives to the new cabinet, sworn recently, is to take practical measures to cut down recurrent expenditure. Although the electronic vehicular tracking devices (often called bumper beepers) have been around for decades and most of large private companies have been deploying it.
But for public institutions they have seldom been used except in legitimate law enforcement situations. The technology offers ability to access vehicle information and receives automatic notifications or performs an action through an online service or through a mobile phone.
When a condition is met and an automatic notification is done via text messaging, email or phone. The tracking gadgets may also be installed in passengers' buses in order to sensor speed thus helping in reducing accidents the number of accidents in the country.
Two ministries including the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry for East Africa Cooperation have been the first in adopting the tracking technology being implemented as a pilot project.
Ms Blandina Nyoni, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, says they have installed the electronic tracking devices in 40 vehicles and several generators to control fuel consumption and monitor engine efficiency.
"The ministry has more than 150 vehicles and generators used in various departments. We have employed the new technology to curb fuel theft and misuse," she said.
Ms Nyoni said although the technology was being resisted by some unscrupulous drivers and plant operators, initial reports showed substantial saving. Statistics on the actual saving are being compiled and the PS believes their success would encourage other ministries and public institutions to adopt the technology.
The Ministry of East African Cooperation has also adopted the electronic tracking technology to minimise fuel consumption.
"This is one of the many measures we have taken to hold down expenditure in all sections of the ministry," said the Permanent Secretary, Ms Stergomena Tax Bamwenda.
The Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) has expressed its determinations in adopting the electronic tracking technology as an efficient and effective way of curbing fuel adulteration and theft as well as cargo safety to minimize tax evasion.
Studies show that the country loses more than 25bn/- monthly due to fuel adulteration and loss of transit cargo. Mr Protas Mmanda, TRA Director of Taxpayer Services and Education Department said the adoption of tracking technology is one of the authority's efforts to automate its services, in order to control all loopholes of revenue loss.
"It's a viable and modern technology that will help the authority crack down those who evade paying tax. It is good progress towards its implementations," Mr Mmanda said.
He said TRA has been in the front position to introduce electronic tracking system to monitor not only transit fuel tankers but also all transit cargo truck carrying uncustomed goods across the country to the neighbourhood countries.
He said with the technology, it will be possible to track down and even arrest truck drivers who tamper with cargo carried to either adulterate or steal. This will reduce complaints of loss or fuel adulteration from the cargo owners in the neighbouring countries.
He said TRA has received a go ahead from the World Bank (WB) to proceed with the initiatives of re-tendering after the first attempt failed to get successful bidders. He said TRA had to float a tender based on the established procurement procedures and in the first attempt there were no successful bidders.
He said since there have been in the past several cases of fuel adulteration and theft of transit cargo, TRA focus on the electronic tracking technology will be the best option.
Mmanda added that after completing the first phase of installing the tracking gadget on transit cargo trucks, efforts will be put in place to track the misuse of fuel in the vehicles operated by the TRA in order to cut down expenditures.