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Speed Limiter, GPS & Cargo tracking not the Same Thing

Speed Limiter, GPS & Cargo tracking not the Same Thing

November 16 , 2019.

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter as a response to an article headlined “Mandatory GPS installation cheers importers, displeases truck owners”  that was published in Fortune on October 13, 2019 [Vol.20 No.1015].

This is written to better clarify the understanding of the various solutions, initiatives, directives and projects conveyed by the article. The article uses some terms interchangeably, “GPS tracking, cargo tracking, and speed limiter” technologies, which ultimately mislead the reader into thinking they are all the same technology. But in reality, each one is a different technology in regards to usage, application and intent of its introduction to the transport industry.

To make things clearer and better understood, it is better to give a basic definition, usage and anticipated objective of each technology.

GPS tracking (fleet management) systems entail the use of database information software and a GPS receiver that will be installed on the vehicle, or any moving asset, to enable a user to gather real-time information such as location, route, speed and direction.

A fleet management system can be taken to the next level and be used to monitor most sensors on a vehicle such as fuel usage, accident detection, immobilization, freewheeling, driver identification and remote control of engine status.

Fleet management is only used to get information about speed, location, engine status, etc.; but cannot control the speed of a vehicle, neither secure a vehicle nor secure the cargo onboard.

Remote immobilisation features such as engine fuel cut-off to stop the vehicle and starter lock to disable a driver from being able to start the engine can be applied with the utmost caution to safety.

The objective of introducing fleet management systems in Ethiopia is to modernise the transport sector and the usage of technology to ease day to day needs by managing consumables, tracking working hours of vehicles, prohibiting night driving, reduce accidents by real-time speed notification and reducing the insurance premium for vehicles.

Currently, fleet management systems have been installed and are operational at NGOs, private companies, cross-regional public transports, rental companies and construction companies.

A speed limiter or speed-governor is a device used to control the speed of a vehicle. In most modern vehicles the manufacturer provides a non-statutory system that is set by the driver. But it can also be installed externally on vehicles as needed.

There are two types of speed limiters. One is for electronic throttle pedals and the other is a mechanical throttle control system or steel cable throttle. Both methods limit the speed of the vehicle when the specified speed level is reached by utilizing a small pressure reducing valve in the fuel line to restrict fuel flow to the injector pump.

The major points that define the worldwide speed limiter standard revolve around the following points: not easily removable, not easy to override speed limit setting and audio warning when the set speed is reached.

The Ethiopian standard requires the speed limiter to have all functions above with a fundamental additional requirement, which is that the speed-limiter device must have a built-in GPS Tracker.

The objective of legislating the installation of a speed limiter is to minimise accidents and reduce causalities by enforcing reduced speed.

The electronic cargo tracking and monitoring system deployed by The Ethiopian Customs Commission is a comprehensive fleet management and electronic cargo security system that uses RFID locks to lock cargo and monitor their status in real-time and relay information via a GPS tracking modem to a command and control centre. This allows users to maintain an electronic record of the complete chain-of-custody for cargo in transit.

Chain-of-custody can be maintained over time to establish a complete audit trail that facilitates compliance with audit requests. All actions are permanently stored in the internal memory of the individual e-seal and also in an advanced software platform.

Although the electronic cargo tracking and monitoring system is designed for cargo security, location of a vehicle, speed, direction and route taken can be monitored since it has a GPS tracking modem, this makes fleet management systems a subset of electronic cargo tracking and monitoring systems.

The major objective of the electronic cargo tracking and monitoring system is to secure cargo in transit by using electronic locks whose status can be monitored in real-time from a central control office located in the Ethiopian Customs Commission's head office. Other objectives include enforcing trade routes and monitoring night driving.

I trust this better clarifies the technologies involved.


Mesay Emishaw (

Location-Based Services Expert

PUBLISHED ON Nov 16,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1020]


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