Scramble for South Sudan cargo intensifies

A cargo ship at the Port of Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

The freight agents in the country have protested against the appointment of the Nairobi Freight Terminal and six foreign clearing and forwarding agents to handle South Sudan cargo.

Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) claimed yesterday the Sudanese government went against international practices that allow for free trade and asked it to rescind the directive.

Kifwa national chairman Roy Mwanthi argued that the Kenyan government guarantees a free market economy, where all businesses are allowed to market themselves and operate freely.

He said this was why Kifwa members were opposed to the monopoly associated with the selection of the six clearing and forwarding agents to handle South Sudan cargo at the freight terminal.

Mwanthi said South Sudan cargo owners should have been allowed to have the final say on which firm handles their goods in Kenya.

In a statement, Mwanthi denied allegations of diversion of South Sudan cargo in the country as the basis for selecting the six clearing and forwarding firms, challenging the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to produce evidence of any diverted cargo.

He argued that the East African Community (EAC) region has one of the best cargo monitoring systems to avert diversions.

He appealed to the Kenyan and South Sudan governments to reconsider the directives on cargo handling and allow for competition so that cargo owners negotiate for favourable terms.

“They should confine their monopolistic activities within the boundaries of the Republic of South Sudan as Kenya has a galaxy of well-trained Customs agents/cargo handling experts,” Mwanthi said.

South Sudan Commissioner of Customs Major General, Dr Akol Madut, listed the companies authorised to clear that country’s cargo as Safina Merci Company Limited, Met Connection International Company Limited, Nimbus Company Limited, Safinass Company Limited, Le Comex Afrique Limited and Manzil Developers Company Limited.

In a letter dated April 25, this year, addressed to Kenya’s Commissioner of Customs and Border Control Lilian Nyawanda, Dr Madut said the said six firms were authorised to handle all South Sudan cargo moved to the Nairobi Freight Terminal.

“This authorisation applies to and covers all goods that are transported through Nairobi Freight Terminal, arriving on trucks or rail but destined for South Sudan and this authorisation remains valid, subsisting and continues until revoked. Further to that, this supersedes all previous authority letters issued in respect of authorising other companies to clear goods destined for South Sudan,” wrote Dr Madut.

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