• KPA acting managing director John Mwangemi affirmed their commitment to implement the directive by President Ruto.
• Clearance can now either be done at Port of Mombasa, Kenya Revenue Authority’s licensed Container Freight Stations and Kenya Ports Authority Inland Container Depots.
The Kenya Ports Authority on Monday morning fully reverted port operations back to Mombasa after a four-year battle with clearing agents and importers.
KPA management issued a notice to shipping lines and agents on the return of port services to Mombasa, 14 days after President William Ruto directed the services be reverted to the port city.
“I will be issuing instructions for clearing of goods and other attendant operational issues to revert to the port of Mombasa,” Ruto said after being sworn into office on September 13.
During the campaigns, he made a commitment to coastal residents that he would rescind the June 6, 2018, directive that had killed the economy of Mombasa.
Ruto said the move would restore thousands of jobs to the people of the Coast.
There had been claims KPA was slow in heeding the directive.
On Monday, KPA acting managing director John Mwangemi affirmed their commitment to implement the directive by President Ruto.
“This is therefore to notify all shipping lines that importers’ documentation of place of clearance and mode of transport for their goods shall be at their choice,” he said.
In a notice to shipping lines and agents, Mwangemi said, shipping lines are advised to facilitate importers’ nomination of a place of clearance.
Clearance can now either be done at the Port of Mombasa, Kenya Revenue Authority’s licensed Container Freight Stations (CFSs) and the Kenya Ports Authority Inland Container Depots.
“This notice superseded the notice issued on June 6, 2018,” Mwangemi said.
Last Monday, the clearing agents and the Mombasa county leadership demanded that KPA issue a public notice in line with the presidential directive.
After a closed-door meeting with the Clearing and Forwarding Association, the Kenya Transporters Association and Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) in his office, Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir wrote to KPA to seek clarity over the issue.
“We are pleased to find that there has been progress [reversion of services] but there needs to be a concerted effort by KPA to limit excess bureaucracy and red tape that is hampering businesspeople from working,” the county chief said.
Nassir said they will continue consulting regularly as they look forward to full implementation for the benefit of coastal people.
On Monday, Kifwa national chairperson Roy Mwanthi welcomed the new directive saying, “It is a step in the right direction.”
“Let the importers have freedom of choice. This will allow for the market forces to decide the prices for cargo clearance and haulage,” Mwanthi said.
There have been fears that reversion of port services to Mombasa will kill the multibillion-shilling standard gauge railway freight services business.
In May 2014, Kenya signed a Sh324 billion loan agreement with Exim Bank of China to finance 90 per cent of the 485km Mombasa-Nairobi SGR line.
In December 2015, the Jubilee government under former President Uhuru Kenyatta acquired Sh158 billion loan for the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR line.
According to Kifwa, Kenya cannot fail to pay back its loan because the government has been raising monies through the Railway Development Levy, which is charged on all imports to Kenya.
“The Railways Development Levy has been in place since 2012. It is still in charge of all imports into Kenya. That should be used to pay for the loan that was given to Kenya by the Chinese to construct the SGR,” he said.
Businessman Suleiman Shahbal said Mombasa residents have reason to smile following the implementation of the presidential order.
“Everyone including the civil society groups played their role and pushed the new government to ensure this happens. I believe those truck drivers will now have their jobs back and ‘Mama Pima’ will get back the lost businesses," he said.
However, Shahbal said job opportunities are not enough.
“For this reason, I want to encourage and challenge ourselves to have the same commitment and dedication to trying to push for the Dongo Kundu project. This is where we will get enough jobs for our youth,” he said.
Shahbal said President Ruto has shown goodwill by returning to port services.
“If we push for the Dongo project, he might consider it and expedite its implementation,” he said.
Edited by A.N