Reprieve for port users as KPA further extends free storage

Terms to run for 90 days until March 2021.

In Summary

•Domestic imports for the first time included, given five days from four.

•KPA has further announced a new volume-based transshipment rebate, aimed at enhancing the transshipment volumes through the Port of Mombasa.

A view of the Inland Container Depot-Nairobi/
A view of the Inland Container Depot-Nairobi/

Kenya Ports Authority(KPA) has once again extended the free storage for containers at its facilities, a relief for traders during the pandemic period.

The authority yesterday announced a three month extension, effective December 10, which will see domestic imports enjoy a free storage period of five days from the normal four days, for the first time.

Domestic export containers which have been enjoying a free storage period of a maximum of 15 days will continue, as opposed to the normal nine.

Transit import containers at the Port of Mombasa and the Inland Container Deport-Nairobi will enjoy 14 days free storage from nine.

Those at the Naivasha ICD will be stored for free for 30 days while transit export containers will enjoy a 20-day free storage period from 15.

“The extension of free storage will be valid for 90 days at Mombasa Port and ICDN (Embakasi) while for Naivasha ICD it will run for six months,” acting managing director Rashid Salim said in a notice.

The authority has further announced a new volume-based transshipment rebate, aimed at enhancing the transshipment volumes through the Port of Mombasa, effective December 10.

Transshipment is the movement of goods or containers to an intermediate destination, then to another destination. One possible reason for transshipment is to change the means of transport during the journey, known as trans-loading.

“The detailed information packs about the rebates are available at our customer care desk,” Salim said, “Please note that the extension period is subject to review after the validity period depending on the business dynamics.”

The storage terms first came into effect on May 18, and ran for three months to August 18. They were extended to November 13, as KPA moved to cushion importers, exporters and transporters from the impact the pandemic has had on the transport and logistics sector.

This includes delays at the borders where truck turnaround time between Mombasa and the hinterland has increased to more than two weeks from a previous average of five days to one week.

The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association ( KIFWA) welcomed the extension saying it will save traders in Kenya and the region from billions in demurrage and storage charges.

“This is a good move by KPA in supporting both local and transit businesses. We are proud of the KPA management,” Kifwa national chairman Roy Mwanthi told the Star on telephone yesterday.

Importers and exporters incur charges of between $30 (Sh 3,348) and $90 (Sh10,044) 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 (Sh11,161)and $200 (Sh22,322) per day for 20ft and 40ft respectively.

The cross-border delays occasioned by Covid-19 have increased transport costs between Mombasa and key East Africa transit destinations by between $300 (Sh33,483) and $1000 (Sh111,610), with a weaker shilling against the dollar pushing up the cost..

The increase in the period taken by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) to inspect and test consignments has also affected cargo clearance at the port of Mombasa and ICDs.

According to Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA), cross border challenges resulting from Covid-19  and its containment measures which include testing of drivers, delay in test results, screening and driver self-quarantine resulted to prolonged transit time.

The delays at the borders result to an additional cost of $200 USD per day for every extra day taken as per the current transit time compared to the pre-Covid time which was at zero additional cost,”SCEA CEO Gilbert Langat notes.