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Group petitions over seized oil as government agrees to waive storage fee

By Cyrus Ombati | Published Mon, September 3rd 2018 at 00:00, Updated September 2nd 2018 at 20:23 GMT +3
They said their cargo worth millions of shillings was detained by Kebs saying the oil products failed to have the required levels of Vitamin A. [Courtesy]

A group of oil importers have protested the continued detention of their products at the Mombasa Port and requested for their release.

The group of 51 importers wrote to President Kenyatta explaining their tribulations since the cargo worth millions of shillings was detained saying they had incurred losses worth millions.

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They asked the government to give them amnesty period on all edible oil products that arrived at the port of Mombasa before June 30, 2018.

“We humbly request that we pay import duty for the remaining containers at the previous rate of 25 percent and FOB value of 11 dollar per jerry can,” the group said in a petition.

They sought to know why after importation of the same product and from the same source and using the same packaging material for ten years, Kebs has never raised an issue of vitamin A level content.

They told the president to establish for them why since June 1 all imported vegetable oil products have failed Vitamin A level content test despite clearance for shipment and issuance of certificate of conformity and the diamond mark of quality, which confirms the presence of Vitamin A content levels by their agent.

“We want to know why Kebs ignores reports from their own appointed agent, SGS, which ensure products adhere to the Kenyan standard before shipment. As importers we pay huge amount of money as fees to SGS to carry out these tests.”

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They argued that Vitamin A in a fortification process tend to degrade overtime when exposed to heat and sunlight according to a study conducted by USAID.

“As such we wonder how Kebs can justify their actions in view of the above.”

Treasury PS Kamau Thugge wrote to the group saying the government had agreed to wave all charges relating to the storage and handling of the affected containing up to August 15.

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“Any demurrage accruing after this date shall be on the account of the importers,” said Thugge in a letter.

Kebs has refused to clear over 400 containers carrying plastic jerry cans of 20kg cooking oil mainly imported from Malaysia as it does not confirm with set standards.

Already the Palm Oil Refiners Association of Malaysia (PORAM) has petitioned its government to intervene and allow the oil re-shipped back from the port of Mombasa after local authorities impounded the cargo.   

PORAM Chief Executive Officer Teoh Beng Chuan in a letter dated 10th July 2018, explained that the oil was impounded as it failed to have Vitamin A content of 20mg/kg with KEBS threatening to confiscate the predicts.

“We have further been informed that the exporters’ request to take ownership of the cargo and re-ship it to another destination has also been denied. Meanwhile the containers continue to remain in the port yard incurring additional storage charges beyond the 14 days free period allowed,” Chuan said.

The letter to Malaysia’s Deputy Secretary General (Trade), ministry of international trade and industry adds; “We therefore seek your kind assistance to have Kenyan authorities to resolve this impasse urgently as it affects the image of Malaysian palm oil industry in addition to the cost involved it its further delayed.  

This came even as reports indicated KAM, Kepsa and NIS had surveyed the ports to collect intelligence that agencies term damning and could lead to major changes at the agencies charged with collection of taxes.

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The report, which was shared with President Uhuru Kenyatta show the government agencies abet corruption which is among others killing the local industries, those who have seen it say.

The report detailed incidents where the ports officials allowed in substandard goods, undervalued the goods and failed to even inspect most containers leading to major loses.

 


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