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Kenya Shippers Council (KSC) has raised concerns over cargo clearance delays at the Container Freight Stations (CFSs).
Kenya Shippers Council (KSC) has raised concerns over cargo clearance delays at the Container Freight Stations (CFSs).

They said this was due to lack of handling equipment and long customs procedures.

The council now wants the government to fast-track commercial maritime regulations to tackle the delays.

The Kenya Revenue Authority custom procedures involve 29 steps for clearing a typical container, whose cargo is intended for utilisation within the local market, according to a recent study.

The comparative transport cost study along the Northern Corridor was done by CPCS, a Canadian transport logistics consultancy firm on behalf of the Northern Corridor Transit Transport Coordination Authority.

KSC chief executive officer Mr Gilbert Langat said the problem could be addressed by ensuring professionalism among operators while KRA should focus on trade facilitation besides revenue collection.

“There are no regulations in place to ensure that high standards at CFS operations are met before any operator is licensed,” Mr Langat said.

He noted that the failure by the operators to embrace 24-hour working programme adopted by the port two years ago had caused artificial delays. He said this attracted huge storage charges that translated into operators’ earnings.

Importers pay a storage fee of $25 (Sh2,000) for the first three days after the five days free storage period for local cargo. For the 10 days that follow, $30 (Sh2,400) is paid for 20-foot container and double that amount for a 40ft container.

After 21 days, the cargo is supposed to go to KRA warehouse, where Customs Warehouse Rent is paid.

“Although there have been improvements in the past couple of years, the port of Mombasa has been beleaguered by inefficient cargo clearance process causing delays and rendering the port expensive and non-competitive,” the CPCS study says.

The KRA online system has lately been facing downtimes. “The Simba system downtimes affect the processing of entries at document processing centre and at release points since release and removal are done online,” says the study.

Delays are also caused by the scanning process, especially when containers are subjected to 100 per cent verification. There is also inadequate staffing especially at the release points.