EFFICIENCY

Nairobi ICD operations steady despite Covid disruption

80% cargo cleared within four days

In Summary

•Efficiency at the facility continues to be supported by improved cargo handling capacity and automation of systems, including exits from the ICD.

•The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association had this week raised concerns over delays at the facility which is subjecting importers to storage charges.

Containers at the Nairobi ICD /FILE
Containers at the Nairobi ICD /FILE

Cargo evacuation at the Inland Container Depot-Nairobi has remained steady as imports from China, Kenya's leading source begins to pick after five months of disruption on the supply chain occasioned by Covid-19.

The latest data indicates 80 per cent of cargo is cleared within zero to 4.6 days, which falls within Kenya Ports Authority(KPA) four days-free storage period, saving importers from costly storage charges while contributing to the ease of doing business in the country.

10 per cent of cargo is cleared within six to 10 day while seven per cent is moved out of the dry port within 11-20 days.

Only two percent goes through the customs check processes, KPA confirmed yesterday.

“Overall, we are operating within the free storage period,” Nairobi ICD manager Peter Masinde told the Star.

According to Masinde, efficiency at the facility continues to be supported by improved cargo handling capacity and automation of systems, including exits from the ICD, which have seen operations remain steady despite measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 among them reduced personnel on site.

Cargo dwell-time, the time a container takes to leave a port facility, reduced to five days in July into August, from six days between April-June.

Average cargo dwell time in most ports in Africa is close to 20 day.

Delayed cargo is mainly those under scrutiny by government agencies, mainly the Kenya Revenue Authority, for mis-declaration, under-declaration, suspected contrabands or tax evasion.

“Another reason for delays can be attributed to importers themselves who sometimes are not ready to collect,” Masinde said.

 

Clearing agents, thorough the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) had last week raised concerns over delays at the facility which is subjecting importers to storage charges.

Importers and exporters incur charges of between $30 (Sh 3,256) and $90 (Sh9,769) per day for 20ft and 40 ft containers respectively, when cargo has stayed beyond the free storage period and more than 24 days.

Containers released by KRA and not collected after 24 hours are charged $100 (Sh10,855)and $200 (Sh21,710) per day for 20ft and 40ft respectively.

“There are deliberate delays at the ICD for instance KPA is using one gate to release cargo. This has lead to delays hence storage charges for importers,” Kifwa national chairman Roy Mwanthi told the Star.

He said clearing agents are also having a difficult time accessing the facility, leading to delays in the clearance of containers.

Masinde however said all the gates at the facility are in operation.

“We are working all the gates maybe for a day like Sunday when there is no much activity, we can close one,” he said.

The facility has two automated gates each with two lanes for entry and exit.

Imports and exports have started to pick up after a slowdown since Covid-19 hit the country in March.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the value of total exports decreased from Sh64.48 billion in March to Sh43.21 billion in April, while the value of imports decreased from Sh137.77 billion to Sh119.75 billion.

Kenyan businesses heavily rely on imports, mainly from China.

A survey by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers(KAM), in March, revealed about 82 per cent of buinesses source their inputs or export to China and faced direct risk of supply chain disruption.

In May, KPA 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.

Free storage for domestic export containers was increased from nine to 15 days.

Transit import containers were allowed 14 days of free storage at the port and the ICD, from a previous nine.

Transit import containers at the Naivasha ICD were given 30 days free period.

All transit export containers were allowed 20 days free of any charges from a previous 15 days.

Storage for domestic import containers, however, remained unchanged at four days.