•The Kenya International Freight Forwarders Warehousing Association says border delays has led to lack of trucks to collect cargo on time.
•Trade and Industrilization CS Betty Maina has however said challenges at the borders are being addressed, with the government having ramped-up its testing capacity.
Delays at the Kenyan borders with her neighbours is costing traders using the Port of Mombasa millions in demurrage and storage charges, clearing agents have said.
Truck drivers complain that slow clearing processes worsened by measures put in place to manage the spread of Covid-19, and cited the Kenya–Uganda border at Malaba as the worst followed by Busia.
The Kenya–Tanzania border at Namanga is also affected by the Covid-19 control measures, traders say, though has less traffic compared toUganda entry points.
The Kenya International Freight Forwarders Warehousing Association (KIFWA) yesterday said since border delays began in April, importers are incurring demurrage charges of $35 (about Sh3,801) per container per day.
While shipping lines have been allowing up to thirty free days for containers, border delays have pushed transit time between the Port of Mombasa and key destinations in the hinterland to beyond the free period, hence the charges, Kifwa National Chairman Roy Mwanthi said.
“Getting empty trucks is a problem because a lot of them are stuck in the border queues for weeks. It can take up to two weeks to get a truck then the journey takes another two to three weeks before containers are back, this is what is exposing many to demurrage,” Mwanthi told the Star yesterday.
Failure to clear cargo from the port facilities (Mombasa Port and Inland Container Depots) on time also attracts charges of between $30 (Sh 3,258) and $90 (Sh9,774) per day, for cargo that has stayed beyond the free storage period and more than 24 days, depending on the size of the container.
With most trucks stuck along the transit route and the closure of Container Freight Stations in Mombasa, importers are forced to have their cargoes remain at the port until either cleared, or moved by the Standard Gauge Railway to Nairobi and Naivasha.
“People have been forced to pay storage charges because there are no trucks to collect cargo on time,” Mwanthi said.
Last week, the Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) said about 3,700 truck drivers had been stranded at the Malaba and Busia border points for more than two weeks for lack of Covid-19 testing.
Transport stakeholders accused the government of a lack of seriousness in offering the tests, leading to long queues at border points and massive losses for transporters.
Trade and Industrilisation Cabinet secretary Betty Maina yesterday said challenges at the borders are being addressed, with the government having ramped-up its testing capacity.
“The ministry of health now have reagents and testing is going on in full swing,” CS Maina told the Star.
To help cushion traders from storage charges, Kenya Ports Authority(KPA) extended the free storage period at its facilities, giving importers and exporters longer period to clear cargo.
The initiative that came into place on May 18, ran for three months to August 18. It was extended by another 90 days where transit import containers enjoy 14 days of free storage at the port and the Inland Container Depot-Nairobi(ICDN), from the normal nine.
Transit import containers at the Naivasha ICD have 30 days free period.
All transit export containers are enjoying 20 days of free storage from the previous 15 days.
“This is in line with our continuous and deliberate efforts of cushioning our customers on effects of the Coronavirus,” acting managing director Rashid Salim said.