•Clearing firms have accused the Kenya Ports Authority of introducing a new verification fee on containers.
•More than 600 clearing and forwarding firms paralyzed operations at the busy depot.
Cargo clearance at the Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD) came to a standstill on Monday morning after firms downed tools in protest of new container charges.
Clearing firms have accused the Kenya Ports Authority(KPA) of introducing a new 'verification fee' on containers, which they term as punitive and an additional cost to the business.
According to the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association ( KIFWA), KPA on Monday started charging $120 (Sh 12,099) to verify a twenty-foot container and between $160(Sh16,132) and $200(Sh20,166) for 40-foot containers.
More than 600 clearing and forwarding firms paralyzed operations at the busy terminal which mainly serves the vast Nairobi industrial area, hundreds of businesses in the capital, Thika and other parts of the country.
Speaking to the Star, Kifwa national chairman Roy Mwanthi said clearing agents will not accept charges on verification of cargo, even as the downing of tools threatened to cause delays at the facility.
“Verification charges are not within the KPA tariff and we are worried why KPA is enforcing such a directive. This is wastage of time and clients cannot accept such a move,” Mwanthi said.
“We are going to paralyze operations until KPA revokes the charges,” he added.
By noon, no containers subjected to verification had been verified with clearing agents staying put that they will not accept the introduction of rules which are not in the KPA tariff.
Kifwa says its agents were not consulted before the introduction of the fees.
Reached for comment, KPA management said it was in a meeting with port stakeholders and would get back later.
"We are currently at a public forum, let us talk later," ICD-Nairobi manager Peter Masinde said.