By PATRICK BEJA and WILLIS OKETCH
Delay in refunds for container deposits has raised concern among clearing and forwarding agents and cargo owners.
And the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) has launched consultative meetings with the Kenya Ships Agents Association (KSAA) to resolve the matter. According to clearing and forwarding agents, container deposits are mandatory before shipping lines can release their containers for transportation of cargo from Mombasa port to the hinterland.
A 40-foot container attracts $5,000 (Sh400, 000) as container deposit while a 20-foot container goes for $3,000.
The money is refundable when the empty containers are returned to the shipping lines in good condition. But clearing agents and cargo owners say the refunds are delayed for as long as six months which ties up business capital.
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"Funds are tied up for as long as six months when the empty containers are returned and we are looking for the possibility of getting the money with interest," said Kifwa National Chairman Mr Awiti Bolo.
Similar concerns have been raised by members of the Kenya Shippers Council which represents exporters and importers. They argue that they are charged demurrage fee and for damage of containers but never get interest when the deposit cash is not refunded in time.
Another concern has been delay by Container Freight Stations (CFSs), which collect empty containers as their timely operating schedule is limited.
"Some CFSs that collect empty containers operate for three days a week and we have to wait to return the boxes there," says a clearing agent who did not want to be named.