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This follows the near-completion of an automated process — referred to as the National Electronic Single Window — which will enable importers and clearing agents to electronically lodge documentation, which will then be processed by the different government agencies in a matter of hours.
Currently, the clearing process entails a tedious paper system where traders have to move physically from office to office, and takes up to one month.
The process has not only made Kenya unattractive trade hub but it is creates loopholes for corruption.
Kenya Shippers Council (KSC) envisions that the Single Window will spur trade by reducing delays and lowering cost associated with clearing of goods at border points thus making Kenyan goods competitive.
"The Single Window will improve efficiency and effectiveness of official controls thereby reducing costs for both governments and traders due to better use of resources," KSC said in a position paper.
According to Vision 2030 Delivery Board Chairman James Mwangi, an entity called Ken Trade has already been constituted to spearhead the process of setting up and operationalising the Single Window platform.
"Ken Trade will be an entity within the ministry of Finance that will over see setting up the Single Window. We have a board in place and an acting chief executive in office," he said.
"Efficiency at the port will have increased five times when the single window is in place."
Vision 2030 aims to accelerate the country into a rapidly industrialising middle-income nation by the year 2030.
Upgrading the port of Mombasa is among flagship projects that are key to deliver double-digit growth envisaged by the economic blueprint.
During its monthly meeting last Friday, Vision 2030 Delivery Board also said the process of setting up the National Electronic Single Window had commenced and the first phase should be complete by June next year.
The second and final phase will be complete by December next year.
The announcement comes as a relief to importers and truckers who often endure long delays when the Kenya Revenue Authority ICT system is down, costing the Government billions of shillings in revenue.
The Single Window will enhance harmonisation and better sharing of relevant data across governmental departments, improve efficiency, transparency, enhance revenue collection and reduce costs of doing business for both the Government and the business community.
It is estimated the Single Window will result in yearly savings to the economy of up to Sh17.5 billion annually during the first three years.
This amount is set to increase to Sh31.5 billion annually in subsequent years.
Traders will benefit from faster clearance and release of cargo, and process will be more transparent thus reduce the potential of corrupt dealings.
The project is being implemented by a team drawn from the
Kenya Ports Authority and the Kenya Revenue Authority and is co-sponsored by the three ministries — Trade, Finance and Transport.
The platform is among of raft of measures that the Government has introduced to boost efficiency at the Mombasa port, among them the entrenchment of a 24-hour working schedule, embracement of more container freight stations, and acquisition of more new equipment.
These measures have improved container ship turnaround time (time taken by vessels to drop and pick cargo and leave the port) slightly improved to 4.2 days in the second quarter of these year from 4.3 days recorded in the corresponding period last year.
"The average container dwell time is now 6.1 days, against 13.1 days in 2008, reflecting an improvement of 114.8 per cent or 7 days," said Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director, Gichiri Ndu, when he recently briefed Mombasa port stakeholders in Kampala, Uganda,
The port of Mombasa is the largest port in East and Central Africa, serving Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the eastern gateway of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The facility has recorded a surge in exports as the local economy and those of neighbouring countries pick up prompting KPA to boost cargo handling capacity.
Between January and June this year, exports increased 15.4 per cent compared to a corresponding period last year.
Increased activity lead to congestion at the facility, built with an initial capacity to handle 250,000 teus (20ft equivalent units) but the containerised cargo has grown to about 700,000 teus.
Two weeks ago, KPA received three Ship to Shore Gantry Cranes (STSs) from China, and a pilot boat to beef up the current stock of equipment.
The STSs, which were procured at $25.8 million (Sh2.4 billion), have a capacity of 50 tonnes compared to the existing STSs that have 40 tonne capacity.
"The new STSs will increase our current complement to seven, and enable us to dedicate at least two cranes for each ship at the container terminal at any given time," said Ndua.
Other equipment acquired recently included 10 new rubber tyred gantry cranes, four reach stackers, 10 terminal tractors, two mooring boats, two harbour mobile cranes.
The Authority is to spend more than Sh10 billion to widen and deepen the channel and ship-turning basin in Mombasa.
It would also start the construction of container berth number 19.
Already, one of the two dredging ships has arrived at the port while the other would arrive next week for the exercise that would allow bigger ships to dock at the port and make the facility more competitive.
The dredging that would take about one and a half years would cost about Sh5.2 billion.
Mwangi said the Sh1.6 trillion Lamu port and the transport corridor between the coastal town to South Sudan as well as other flagship projects for the Vision 2030 would be set to fast tracked.
The decision comes after a July presidential directive to prioritise some of the projects that are expected to be key drivers of economy.
By Macharia Kamau
—Additional reporting by Patrick Beja
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