DEFIANCE

Multiple state agencies slowing cargo clearance–KIFWA

A section of state agencies are blamed for delayed clearance of goods through duplication of processes, multiple interventions and personal interests of state officers.

In Summary

•In June last year, the State moved to kick-out at least 24 agencies from the ports of entry some which have defied the orders.

•The Kenya International Freight Forwarders Warehousing Association (KIFWA) says though the government has been pushing to enhance cargo handling and clearance, some state agencies continue to hinder seamless business

Kenya International Freight Forwarders Warehousing Association national chairman Roy Mwanthi addressing journalists in Nairobi on January 21/
Kenya International Freight Forwarders Warehousing Association national chairman Roy Mwanthi addressing journalists in Nairobi on January 21/
Image: VICTOR IMBOTO

State agencies which have refused to leave ports of entry are to blame for continued slow clearance of cargo, clearing and forwarding agencies have said. 

They are now pushing for the adoption of the Kenya Customs Agents and Freight Forwarders Bill, 2020.

The Kenya International Freight Forwarders Warehousing Association (Kifwa) said duplication of services by various state agencies and vested personal interests has led to delayed clearance of goods.

KIFWA yesterday said though the government is keen to enhance cargo handling and clearance, some state agencies continue to hinder seamless flow of business.

 

A memo from State House on June 4, last year sought to remove at least 24 agencies from the ports of entry, in a move aimed at reducing duplication of roles and address graft at ports where officials have been demanding bribes to clear some cargo. 

There has been a stand-off between government agencies. Some agencies have refused to move saying they operate as an Act of Parliament,” Kifwa national chairman Roy Mwanthi said in Nairobi yesterday.

According to the State directive, only Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) are to play the lead role in cargo intervention with Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) as the principal handler.

Key agencies with restricted access to cargo clearance include the National Intelligence Service, the Directorate of Criminal Investigation, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services(Kephis), weights and measures and the Anti-Counterfeit Agency.

Others are Pharmacy and Poisons Board, AFA Horticultural Crop Directorate, Directorate of Veterinary Services, Kenya Dairy Board, Radiation Protection Board, AFA Sugar Directorate, Pest Control Produce Board, Directorate of Mining, Kenya Wildlife Service and the National Biosafety Authority.

All ejected agencies, according to head of public service Joseph Kinyua, must apply and get approval before undertaking any cargo related intervention at ports of entry.

A huge section of these agencies are however reported to have defied the State directive, staying put at the port and airports.

 

Some of the agencies, through a local association, have even moved to court to block the directive, in what is seen as part of a scheme to protect their interests at the ports, mainly Mombasa.

“There has not been significant progress on reducing bottlenecks in clearing of goods. We ask the government to sit withing themselves and agree how they are going to reduce the high intervention of cargo,” Mwanthi said.

“We must smoke out anybody delaying cargo clearance,” he added.

The Shippers Council of Eastern Africa has however acknowledged improved cargo dwell time since the directive was communicated, despite the pending challenges.

According to the council, at least 50 per cent of cargo is now cleared within the four-days free storage period compare to 30 per cent before the directive.

“The government must address the regulatory and legislative aspect of these agencies to allow seamless movement of cargo,” head of advocacy and membership development Agayo Ogambi said.