•Small scale traders association says rogue players have been hiding behind cargo consolidators to import goods into the country.
•Rogue KRA officials have also been increasing import duty of some of the goods making it difficult for traders to clear, which finally ends up being auctioned.
Small scale traders have said the new transit shed launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta, in Nairobi on Tuesday, will help weed out unscrupulous importers.
They said it will also save them from some rogue Kenya Revenue Authority officials at the Inland Container Depot -Nairobi (ICDN), speed up cargo clearance and collection and cut down huge demurrage charges incurred for delayed return of empty containers.
According to the Nairobi Importers and Small Traders Association, rogue players have been hiding behind cargo consolidators to import goods into the country, which they then use allies at the port of entry to clear.
“We have been having people use our containers to consolidate goods. The new shed is going to separate legit business people and illegal traders,” the association's organising secretary Ann Nyokabi told the Star.
Crafty KRA officials have also been increasing import duty on some goods making it difficult for traders to clear and they are subsequently auctioned.
“Some rogue officials have been frustrating us pushing our goods into being auctioned then they end up being the same people buying these goods. This is going to be a thing of the past,” Nyokabi said.
Small traders have traditionally consolidated cargo where an individual is not able to fill a container with their own goods.
Cargo consolidation bundles small shipments into a large container for delivery. It is sent under one bill of lading.
At the Kenya Railways Transit Shed, also known as 'Boma line' cargo for the SMES will be transported from the Port of Mombasa to ICDN, Embakasi, and later trans-shipped to the Transit Shed using Metre Gauge Railway.
At the shed, consolidated cargo will be stripped from containers and stored in customs after arrangemen and marked according to their nature for easy tracking and identification.
The verification by customs officers and other government agencies will be done on these specific single goods as opposed to the typical verification of a whole container.
Traders with goods of customs value of Sh1 million or less will be allowed to make an import declaration on a mobile App or a direct assessment entry, while those with goods of customs value above Sh1 million will clear through a registered clearing agent in the customs system.
Initially, traders were forced to collect their goods either at the ICDN or Mombasa Port a tedious processes further complicated by bureaucracies.
“The new shed is going to be a game changer. It is a good thing,” Nyokabi said.
Most consolidated cargo coming into the country include food, personal care products, electronics, clothing, home fittings and furnitures, among others. China is the main source.
Last year, small traders raised alarm over delays in clearance and confiscation of their goods at the Embakasi depot, attracting the President's attention.
In May 2019, he directed the clearing of the goods within three weeks, as long as traders had adhered to procedures
He directed Kenya Revenue Authority to vet all the consolidators in the depot and gazette their names.
Treasury CS Ukur Yatani said the subsequent move to gazette and register all import and export cargo consolidators has not only enhanced efficiency, but also boosted the war against contraband and counterfeit goods.
“This initiative coupled with One Stop Border Post has improved the flow and efficiency of goods and services across our borders, with considerable savings to traders,” Yatani said during the launch of the shed in Nairobi.
He said the container freight station will reduce the cost of doing business for traders, by enabling them to now pick their goods from Nairobi, as opposed to having to travel to the port city of Mombasa.
The KRC Transit Shed is intended to serve 7, 500 small traders, with 40 per cent of them being in the Kenyan hinterland.