The approved new free storage period is effective Monday (yesterday) and will run for three months, KPA notes.
Clearing agents have however protested the move saying KPA has left them out with domestic import cargo storage period remaining four days.
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has extended the free storage period for importers and exporters in view of the slow truck turn-around occasioned by the impact of the Covid-19.
“Kenya Ports Authority wishes to announce to the general public of extension of free storage period to its customers. 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 in a statement.
He said the virus has impacted the whole transport logistics chain.
The approved new free storage period is effective May 18 runs for three months, KPA notes.
Free storage for domestic export containers has been increased from nine to 15 days.
Transit import containers will now enjoy 14 days of free storage at the port and the Inland Container Depot-Nairobi(ICDN), from the previous nine.
Transit import containers at the Naivasha ICD will have 30 days free period.
All transit export containers are now being stored for 20 days free of any charges from the previous 15 days.
Storage for domestic import containers, however, remain unchanged where cargoes are stored free for four days, before starting to attract charges.
Importers and exporters incur charges of between $30 (Sh 3,212) and $90 (Sh9,636) per day for cargo that has stayed beyond the free storage period and more than 24 days, depending on the size of the container.
Containers released by KRA and not collected after 24 hours are charged $100 (Sh10,707)and $200 (Sh21,415) per day for 20ft and 40ft respectively.
“Please note that the extension is valid for 90 days from the effective date and is subject to review thereafter depending on the business dynamics,” Salim said.
This will go along way in cushioning importers and exporters using the Port of Mombasa and ICDs in the country as cargo movement remains affected, mainly with slow clearance at the Malaba, Busia, Namanga borders.
Cargo clearance into Uganda and other hinterland countries have dropped by more than 50 per cent, a survey by African e-logistics firm–Kobo360 revealed last week.
This has been pegged on the mandatory coronavirus testing at the Kenya-Uganda borders.
While it used to take between four hours and 24 hours to clear a track, now it takes 36 hours to 48 hours, Kobo360 Kenya Country Manager Dennis Kathurima told the Star in an interview.
This has affected truck turn-around time between Mombasa and Kampala which has increased from an average four days to 10 days.
The Malaba and Busia borders have about 800 and 500 trucks crossing every day respectively.
“We have seen significant delays in cargo clearance. Truck drivers have also experienced additional fuel expenses, increased mileage per trip, and even truck and cargo security which have caused an escalation in the drivers' monthly costs,” Kathurima said.
Local players have however protested the move to leave them out saying they are also hit by Covid-19 like those in the neighbouring countries.
The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association ( KIFWA) had requested an extension from four to 10 days, with national chairman Roy Mwanthi insisting that clearance procedures and processes for local cargo are even more complicated than transit.
“We are also experiencing short working hours by KPA, KRA, banks, and shipping lines. Operating hours have also been limited due to the nationwide curfew and lockdown,” Mwanthi told the Star yesterday, “We reject this status quo.”
He said KPA management should consider local port users and also extend the free storage period for domestic cargo.
“We must treat all port users equally whenever we have an opportunity to review the tariff,” he said.
The Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA)had also suggested 10 days free cargo storage period, a move they said would ease the rush to pick containers before the curfew time, which has led to crowding at the Port of Mombasa and ICDN.
“We have also asked the Ships Agents Association to impress upon their members to increase the free period for their containers,” chief executive Gilbert Langat said in a communique seen by the Star.
Export acceptance period should also be extended, SCEA sayid in the request to KPA and Kenya Revenue Authority(KRA) commissioner of customs and border control office.
KRA has been asked to extend the export acceptance period from the current four hours, which is said to be restrictive under the current operating circumstances.
To cushion customers from customs-related challenges, the council has requested the taxman to suspend penalties for delayed movement of export cargo in Mombasa.