Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) businessmen in Mombasa are up in arms over multiple taxations of imported goods at the Port of Mombasa.
The importers said they are faced with loss of business due to the multiple charges by OGEFREM, their equivalent of the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA).
Led by their representative Mr Kambale Mukokoma, the Congolese businessmen stated they would soon be forced to ground their clearing and forwarding activities over the multiple taxations unless their concerns were addressed.
Mukokoma noted since the arrival of OGEFREM in Mombasa, Congolese cargo transiting through the port of Mombasa have been confronted and subjected to many taxes before loading for final destination to the DRC.
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The importers said they were not consulted and were therefore not party to the decisions to pay extra taxes which they claim will add to the cost of doing business.
"Today we regret once again that OGEFREM has blocked the release of our containers because we have categorically refused to pay twice for the same document called FERI while shippers have paid approximately $300 for it from the port of origin,'' he said.
He added that all these are being done ostensibly to help in the monitoring of Congo-bound cargo.
He said importers have to pay $50 annual registration fee for each economic operator using the port of Mombasa, 1.8% of the amount of ocean freight of all cargoes to DRC, $250 per container for the so called electronic form commonly called FERI, $20 for certificate of destination and 5 per cent of customs fees are collected by OGEFREM once the goods arrive at their destination.
‘All these charges are subjected to the Congo cargo passing through the port of Mombasa saying that the purpose is to monitor goods destined for Congo’ said Mukokoma.
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He disclosed that OGEFREM operations in neighbouring Tanzania were suspended at the Port of Dar es Salaam following outcry by the Congolese business community.
Mukokoma said they are forced to pay more to clear their cargo as a result of the long delays associated with the winding processes.
He said as a result of the inordinate delays, importers from Congo pay more for ship demurrage charges and the trucks hired to evacuate goods from the port to the eastern parts of the DRC.Mukokoma says OGEFREM company taxation has forced some Congolese Members to divert their good through the port of Dar es salaam.
The DRC clearing agents are now calling on the Kenya government to dismantle what they termed as illegal cartel which is taxing them illegal fees as ferry charges.
Mukokoma is saying if the issue of illegal taxation is not addressed they will be forced to relocate their businesses to the port of Dar er salaam.
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Jomvu Member of Parliament, Mr Badi Twalib joined the Congolese clearing and forwarding agents in their protests saying the move by OGEFREM would disrupt business and threaten commerce in Mombasa.
Twalib called for a quick resolution of the problems raised by the Congolese businessmen saying issues of multiple taxations would increase demurrage charges and consequently the cost of doing business.
The MP who received a petition from the Congolese promised to raise up the matter with the Parliamentary Committee on Transport in a bid to unlock the stalemate that threatens to cripple business and affect livelihoods in Mombasa.
Twalib warned that the cumbersome processes and taxations Congolese importers have to go through at the Mombasa port before clearing their transit cargo are graduating turning the port into an unattractive destination for doing business.
''The concerns they have raised are genuine and the Kenyan authorities need to step in as multiple and high taxations go against the government’s vision of creating enabling environment for private businesses to grow,'' he said.
He said the businessmen were worried that the requirement meant great additional handling charges while they were already overburdened with inordinate transit taxes that are more exorbitant.