BURDENED

Importers want extra storage time for local cargo

KPA has given transit goods more free storage period.

In Summary

•Shippers want local imports allowed 10 days free storage period from current four.

•Clearing agents say clearance procedures and processes for local cargo are more complicated than transit.

Cargo at the Inland Container Depot-Nairobi awaiting collection. /PATRICK VIDIJA
Cargo at the Inland Container Depot-Nairobi awaiting collection. /PATRICK VIDIJA

Port users are seeking an extension of the free cargo storage period for local imports to cushion them from additional costs.

This comes almost a month after Kenya Ports Authority(KPA) extended the free storage period for importers and exporters of transit cargo, leaving local tariffs unchanged.

In the revised three month free storage tariffs which came into effect on May 18 , transit import containers are allowed 14 days of free storage at the port and the Inland Container Depot-Nairobi(ICDN), from a previous nine days.

 

Transit import containers at the Naivasha ICD have 30 days free storage while all transit export containers are now being stored for 20 days free of any charges 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 then.

However, storage for domestic import containers remained unchanged where cargoes are stored free for four days, before attracting charges.

This, according to the Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA) has led to increased cost of doing business for goods destined for Kenya as only 40 per cent of cargo is cleared within the free period.

Importers and exporters incur charges of between $30 (Sh 3,203) and $90 (Sh9,611) 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 (Sh10,679)and $200 (Sh21,358) per day for 20ft and 40ft respectively.

“Shippers are suffering. We will welcome a reduction of free period when we have demonstrated high levels of efficiency,”SCEA chief executive Gilbert Langat said.

 

The council had proposed an extension for local imports from the current four days to 10 days, as port services, clearance and movement remain affected by measures to mitigate Covid-19.

The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association ( KIFWA), the umbrella body for clearing agents, has accused KPA of discriminating local cargo.

It has also requested for 10 days free storage period for domestic imports with national chairman Roy Mwanthi noting that clearance procedures and processes for local cargo are 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 curfew and lockdown,” Mwanthi told the Star yesterday.

He said KPA management should not favour some port users or destinations.

We must treat all port users equally whenever we have an opportunity to review the tariff,” he said.

The move by KPA was a relief for importers and exporters from the hinterland, mainly Uganda, which accounts for more than 82 per cent of transit cargo through the Port of Mombasa.

Transit destinations have been hit by slow border clearance as drivers are subjected to Covid-19 tests, quarantine and reduced customs operations which have affected turn-around-time.

While it used to take between four hours and 24 hours to clear a track, now it takes 36 hours to 48 hours, African e-logistics firm–Kobo360 notes.

“Truck drivers have also experienced additional fuel expenses, increased mileage per trip and even insecurity for truck and cargo ,” Kobo360 Kenya Country Manager Dennis Kathurima told the Star in an interview.

The worst affected is the Kenya-Uganda border of Malaba which has seen trucks remain on the queue for days, with the waiting line stretching more than 50 kilometres.