HITCH

Transporters hit as Malaba border delays persist

This is on the breakdown of scanners on the Ugandan side.

In Summary

•Malaba border is the busiest crossing point for trucks using the Northern Corridor, which connects landlocked countries to the Port of Mombasa.

•Approximately 1,000 cargo trucks pass through the Malaba One Stop Border Post each day, while the one in Busia handles an average of 600 trucks.

Long distance trucks along the Malaba-Bungoma highway.
Long distance trucks along the Malaba-Bungoma highway.
Image: FILE

Transporters moving cargo between Kenya and Uganda are now facing increased costs and a higher truck-turnaround time, as delays in clearance at the Malaba border persist.

The delays have been attributed to a breakdown of scanner machines on the Ugandan side, which has led to a backlog.

As of yesterday, the trucks snarl-up had stretched over 40 kilometres into the Kenya, a situation similar to January last year when Kenya and Uganda differed on the validity of Covid test certificates for drivers.

Another major hiccup was witnessed later in November when the Kenyan side experienced frequent downtimes on Kenya Revenue Authority's (KRA) scanners.

“The scanners on the Ugandan side are not working. They have on and off…We are only using the mobile scanner,” Kenya Transporters Association CEO Mercy Ireri told the Star on the telephone.

The Uganda Revenue Authority confirmed the failure on its machines, which was being resolved.

The Malaba border is the busiest crossing point for trucks using the Northern Corridor, which connects landlocked countries of Uganda, DR Congo, South Sudan and parts of Rwanda to the Port of Mombasa.

Approximately 1,000 cargo trucks pass through the Malaba One Stop Border Post each day, while the one in Busia handles an average of 600 trucks.

Uganda is the biggest destination for transit cargo through Mombasa, accounting for about 83.2 per cent of transit volumes, according to Kenya Ports Authority.

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.

The delays are threatening to affect the truck turn-around time, for instance between Mombasa and Kampala, which averages 3.5 days.

This is the time from when a truck picks cargo at the port, delives in Kampala and returns to the port.

“Any delays translate to a cost,” Ireri said, with importers having to pass the final costs to consumers making products costlier.

Logistics costs remain high in Kenya, estimated between 30 per cent to 42 per cent of the goods value, against best global best practice of eight per cent.

According to Shippers Council of Easter Africa Logistics Performance Survey, transport costs stand at $1.8 (Sh 264) per km per container, against world’s best practices of $1 (Sh 146) per kilometre, per container.

With the high fuel costs, there has been a rise in road transport costs.

For instance, moving a 20-foot container from Mombasa to Nairobi now costs over Sh100, 000, from an average of Sh80, 000.

KRA has been banking on non-intrusive inspection technology such as X-ray or gamma-ray imaging type equipment, which gives customs an opportunity to have a quick insight of a container load, without the need to open and unload it.

This helps officers in either confirming or resolving the risk assessment, which reduces the number of unnecessary physical inspections.

Huge investment in non-intrusive tools at the port and borders have been key in reducing cargo dwell-time; enhance trade facilitation through faster movement of cargo and enabled KRA to collect more revenue.

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