Press Center | Freight Shipping Logistics News
Citing delays at the port, coupled with the high taxes, the importers said the business environment in the country had become hostile.
While a container of mitumba used to attract duty of between Sh900,000 and Sh1.1 million before the new taxes were implemented early this year, the new rate is now Sh1.8 million, an increase of more than Sh800,000, they said.
“How can you explain the kind of increase we have seen? It is as if somebody wants us to close shop. Our customers are now buying clothes from Tanzania, leaving us with bales of clothes that we are not sure how to dispose of,” Mr Rashit Shah told the Nation.
The importers also say delays at the port are costing them dearly.
“When, for instance, a container reaches the port, it takes more than three weeks to clear besides the high taxes, a situation that is unbearable,” their spokesman, Mr Cosmas Moka, said.
“At the moment there are more than 200 containers lying at the port awaiting collection since the owners have not been able to clear them because of the unanticipated high costs,” he said.
Due to the delays, shipping lines have already issued the importers with a notice of their intention to increase freight costs by up to $800 (Sh68,000).
This means importers will now pay $5,200 (Sh442,000), up from $4,600 (Sh391,000), to ship a container from the United States and Canada, Mr Moka said.
Mitumba traders at the Kongowea market in Mombasa on Sunday protested the increased taxes.
Mitumba Association Kongowea branch chairman Tobias Sule said the government had been increasing taxes without explanation since October last year.
Mr Sule said some traders had opted to close down their businesses.
“We are incurring a lot of losses because importers are selling a bale of mitumba at up to Sh20,000 from Sh11,000 less than a year ago, saying the taxes are too high,” Mr Sule said.
Mr Amos Mbugua, a trader at the Kongowea market, said small-scale traders were also feeling the heat of the high taxes.
He urged the Finance ministry to intervene and ensure the taxes are reduced immediately.
“We have been negotiating with the Ministry of Trade in trying to solve the problem, but in vain. In fact, now we have planned to hold a demonstration if that is what will make our voices be heard,” Mr Mbugua said.
He said the number of customers buying mitumba clothes had also reduced.
Kongowea market, the largest in East Africa, serves more than 15,000 traders dealing with various products.
PARASTATAL heads who signed the Mombasa port community charter risk being sacked if their agencies do not deliver on the contents of the new entity. The charter signed between the government and the private sector aims at improving the movement of cargo from the port into hinterland