KRA acknowledges hiccups on new customs system

KRA is implementing the iCMS to replace the old Simba system

In Summary

• Importers have faulted the new iCMS platform for causing delays in clearing of cargo leading to a backlog at the Port of Mombasa.

• KRA has admitted to have had challenges in the implementation  which are being addressed through training of stakeholders.

KRA headquarters./FILE
KRA headquarters./FILE

Kenya Revenue Authority(KRA) has acknowledged hiccups in the new Integrated Customs Management System (iCMS) which importers are blaming for delays in cargo clearance  at the Port of Mombasa.

KRA's Customs and Border Control Department, is currently implementing the iCMS meant to replace the 13-year old Simba system hoping to seal tax cheats and make trade processes seamless.

The system was first fronted in 2017 but failed to take off till May this year.


KRA requires importers to submit Import Declaration Forms (IDFs),sea manifests, security bonds,cargo declarations and exemptions through iCMS, a rule that became effective on July 7. 

iCMS has been rolled-out at the airports including the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport(JKIA), Eldoret International Airport and Moi International Airport. Sea module in iCMS is currently being piloted at Kilindini Mombasa(Port of Mombasa).

At the port, piloting started with bulk cargo, clinker which has been piloted successfully and is now live, the authority told the Star yesterday.

“We are currently piloting on motor vehicles with a controlled group of stakeholders and addressing all issues along the way,” KRA Commissioner, Customs and Border Control Kevin Safari said.

He said like any other IT system, the new cargo system is anticipated to cause disruption in the normal market operations but mechanisms to address the challenges are in place.

“By reviewing lessons learnt on clinker piloting, KRA is working on enhancing user experience as piloting of additional cargo types kicks off,” the commissioner said.

A section of importers, mainly car dealers have complained of the failures by the new system which has caused a delay in cargo clearing at the port.

“The system is not user friendly. You clear a document on one side when you go to KRA and NTSA(National Transport and Safety Authority) they can't find your documents. This whole back and forth is costing us a lot,” Car Importers Association of Kenya chairman Peter Otieno told the Star yesterday.

“KRA told us to give them this week to eliminate some of these technical challenges. We are waiting to see,” said the The Kenya Auto Bazaar Association (Kaba) chairman John Kipchumba 

On June 13, KRA notified shipping lines,agents, importers, exporters, clearing and forwarding agents, consolidators and all other parties related to cargo clearance process of the commencement of implementation of the iCMS at the Port of Mombasa, Inland Container Depot Nairobi (ICDN) and border stations.

iCMS is aimed at achieving full automation of all customs functions and processes in Kenya and the East Africa.

KRA said it has been training stakeholders, and continues to offer support for those who don't understand the new system.

It described iCMS as revolutionary and leverages on modern technologies to deliver a new customer experience in international trade.

Some of the key benefits to be delivered by iCMS include faster clearance, dynamic risk management and automated confirmation of exports.