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Importers to clear cargo within a day from next month

By Patrick Alushula | December 17th 2015

Importers could cut costs arising from delays at the port when in January Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) implements a plan that allows clearance of cargo before it lands.

Announcing the plan yesterday, KRA Commissioner General John Njiraini said that the move would help save on costs as well as ease congestion at the busy Port of Mombasa, which serves as the major gateway of trade to East Africa.

This is welcome news for many importers who have cried foul over delays that have led to high costs and sometimes destruction of their cargo at the port.

KRA Commissioner of Customs and Border Control Julius Musyoki said that the move will afford importers ample time to give their documents in advance for processing. “When you give your documents in advance, they will be processed on time so that when the vessel docks, you just pick your cargo. We will not have cargo sitting for days before clearance,” said Mr Musyoki.

With the initiative, customers will clear their cargo within a day or even a few hours depending on the sensitivity of the goods. Currently, depending on the volume of goods and the levels of compliance required, it takes two to three days on average.

Musyoki said that everything is already in place since they will still utilise the Simba clearing system. He expects the programme to be rolled out next year in January. This move will see importers, especially those dealing in bulk cargo, saving significant amounts of money especially the costs incurred for the number of days the cargo stays at the port before being picked.

“This will be advantageous because when the cargo is moved the same day it lands, importers avoid demurrage costs. So this will help not only in facilitating easy movement of cargo but also bringing down costs,” added Musyoki.

Tracking systems

It comes against the backdrop of the implementation of the East African Single Customs Territory (SCT) that saw the cost of clearing cargo at the Port of Mombasa and of transport along the Northern Corridor go down by 30 per cent. This was adopted during the16th Ordinary Summit of the East African Community Heads of State held in Nairobi on February 20, 2015.

Just last year, the port achieved a landmark development that saw it handle a total of 24.9 million tonnes and over one million twenty-foot containers. This achievement placed it among the top five best performing ports in Africa on a list that includes South Africa’s Durban, Egypt’s Alexandria and Port Said as well as Morocco’s Tangier Med.

Meanwhile, plans are also underway to come up with a single cargo tracking system by mid next year. This will be monitored by the partner States - Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda - as opposed to the current system that has several tracking systems run by individual countries.

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