FREEDOM OF CHOICE

Clearing agents call for 'optional' use of Naivasha ICD

Says port users should choose preferred facility.

In Summary

•Effective Tuesday next week, all transit cargo will be cleared from Naivasha ICD, according to Transport CS James Macharia.

•Kenya Ports Authority has offered import containers using the facility a 30-days free storage period to attract traders.

A reach stacker loads containers onto a truck at the newly launched Naivasha dry port.
A reach stacker loads containers onto a truck at the newly launched Naivasha dry port.
Image: / COURTESY

Clearing agents are opposed to the forced use of the Naivasha Inland Container Depot for cargo clearance and storage.

Instead, they want importers, exporters and cargo owners to be allowed to choose the facilities they want to handle their cargo.

The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa), has criticised the government's directive to have the Naivasha Inland Container Depot handle all transit cargo .

 

Effective Tuesday, all transit cargo will be cleared from Naivasha ICD, according to Transport CS James Macharia.

 

Naivasha will be a transshipment centre,” Transport CS James Macharia told the Star in a telephone interview.

According to the CS, the facility to be served by the Standard Gauge Railway will not only reduce transit time from Mombasa to the hinterland 18 hours, but will also help in mitigating the spread of coronavirus which has hit the Norther Corridor.

Kifwa however acknowledges that while the depot will go a long way as an alternative point of cargo clearance and bringing services closer to Western Kenya and the Great Lakes region in general, it should not be forced on port users.

“Kifwa reiterates that the consumption of rail, road and Naivasha ICD services should be on a willing buyer willing seller basis as per Competition Act,” national chairman Roy Mwanthi said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the association has challenged the government, through its different state parastatals,to make transport costs on containerised cargo by rail and road via Naivasha ICD to transit destinations cost effective than road transport from Mombasa .

This, it says, will attract and encourage the business community to use the facility.

Kifwa has also called for sensitization of importers,exporters and cargo owners to use Through Bill Shipments for Naivasha ICD as opposed to Merchant Haulage Shipments which will heavily expose them to huge demurrage costs and possible loss of empty containers.

 

“Kenya Railways should also be aggressive in marketing their services and the Naivasha ICD to woo and attract customers.

“As a liberalised economy, the government should encourage fair competition and not actions that propagate monopoly. Importers and exporters should be allowed to choose their preferred mode of transport,” said Mwanthi

He said clearing agents are however ready and willing to offer their services at any licensed customs area, including Naivasha ICD.

The government is keen to fully operationalise the dry port located at Suswa, mainly targeting transit cargo, with Uganda being the top destination.

It accounts for 83.2 per cent of transit cargo through the port of Mombasa. South Sudan takes up 9.9 per cent while DR Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda account for 7.2 per cent, 3.2 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively.

Kenya Ports Authority has offered import containers using the facility a 30 days free storage period, the highest compared to the Nairobi Inland Container Depot,where transit import containers currently enjoy a 14 days free storage period.