•The 1,200 clearing and forwarding companies in the country must renew their licenses for them to continue operating.
•The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association says it expects all its members to comply with all the licensing requirements.
Clearing agents have less than two weeks to renew their operating licenses or be locked out of business as Kenya Revenue Authority(KRA) moves to ensure compliance and streamline the sector.
In a public notice yesterday, the taxman called on all customs clearing agents to submit their applications by December 31, with the exception of Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) who are already licenced.
“Kenya Revenue Authority reminds customs clearing agents that their licenses will expire on December 31, 2019 with the exception of the three year Authorised Economic Operators licences,” KRA, through the commissioner of customs and border control Kevin Safari said.
An AEO is a party involved in the international movement of goods, in whatever function, that has been approved by, or on behalf of a national customs administration.
“The applications for renewal of licenses are only open to the customs clearing agent firms , including AEO firms who had been vetted by the customs agents evaluation committee and found compliant, approved,” KRA said.
The 1,200 clearing and forwarding companies in the country must renew their licenses for them to continue operating, even as the future looks bleak for a number of Mombasa based companies.
This is in the wake of direct cargo evacuation by the Standard Gauge Railway(SGR) and cargo clearance at the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Nairobi that has seen majority of clearing firm realign their businesses including moving offices to Nairobi.
Yesterday, the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) said it expects all its members to comply with all the licensing requirements, unless there are those which have opted out of business.
“Everybody is supposed to comply. In the event people are left out, we shall pitch an extension through our usual communication channels with KRA,” national chairman Roy Mwanthi told the Star on telephone.
He acknowledged changing business dynamics in the clearing and forwarding sector which has been occasioned by the direct movement of upcountry and hinterland cargo by SGR.
Most firms have been forced to set up offices in Nairobi, which is further expected to take a new twist with the operationalization of the Naivasha Inland Container Deport to be served by the SGR freight services commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday.
“Agents have adjusted to Nairobi ICD where many now have offices both in Mombasa
and Nairobi. Business is going on well for many,” Mwanthi said, even as he admited some some might have opted out of business due to logistical challenges.
Majority of Nairobi, its surroundings, upcountry and transit cargo is now cleared at the Embakasi based ICD, which has threatened existence of Container Freight Stations(CFSs) , transport companies and cargo handling related businesses in Mombasa.
Last year, KRA licensed a total of 868 clearing agents to conduct business in the country, mainly dealing with cargo coming into the country through the Port of Mombasa, international airports and cross-border trade.