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After two-week cargo boycott, Kenya and Uganda reach trade agreement

A two-week transit cargo clearance boycott at the Port of Mombasa has threatened to strain good relations between Kenya and Uganda.

 

Ugandan traders had from November 14 boycotted clearing their cargo to protest the introduction of pre-pay taxes by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) without consultation.

 

Uganda-bound cargo accounts for over 70 percent of total transit goods through the Port of Mombasa and most of that cargo has been lying at the facility for the last two weeks.

 

Through the Kampala City Traders Association, the traders had last Thursday issued a two-week ultimatum to KRA to rescind its decision or they revert to the Port of Dar es Salaam or alternatively put pressure on the Ugandan Government to block Kenyan goods from accessing the country’s market.

 

Ugandan newspapers quoted the association chairman Everest Kayondo protesting against the decision by KRA seen as going against the spirit of East Africa integration and the Single Customs Territory.

 

Speaking in Mombasa yesterday, the traders said President Yoweri Museveni was personally concerned about the pre-pay tax move that led to the stand-off.

 

Yesterday, KRA Assistant Commissioner for Marketing and Communications in the Southern Region Fatma Yusuf said the matter was resolved last Friday following a meeting of customs chiefs from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi in Bujumbura. However, she did not elaborate on the deal arrived at.

 

“We are going to issue a comprehensive statement tomorrow (today),” Ms Yusuf said. Ugandan clearing and forwarding agent William Kidima, who is based in Mombasa, said the stand-off has resulted in huge costs since cargo stuck at the port attracted storage charges. He said even trucks which were loaded could not be allowed to leave the port because of the dispute and hence attracted charges since they are only allowed to load for six hours.

 

Source: Atlanta Blackstar

Cargo transporters opt for self-regulation

Container Freight Stations (CFSs) will be required to install weighbridges at their facilities in a move intended to check overloading of trucks.

 

This is one of the measures stakeholders in the transport sector have proposed, and which they are expected to commit themselves to in a charter signing ceremony today in Mariakani.

 

Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya National Highways Authority will seek other ways to ensure cargo loaded on trucks is of required weights.

Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau is among dignitaries from sectors in the cargo clearance and transport through the Northern Corridor who will witness the signing ceremony.

 

Overloading of trucks leaving Mombasa port and CFSs has been a bone of contention with various agencies blaming each other for non-compliance to required weight limits.

 

ABETTING OVERLOADING

 

Kenya Revenue Authority officials, managers of weighbridges and the police have been accused of abetting overloading by accepting bribes.

 

“Since various measures put in place to curb overloading, including punitive fines have failed, we have decided to go the self-regulation way. This is an initiative we believe will work because each member of an organisation will have a responsibility to ensure trucks are not overloaded,” Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) chairman Paul Maiyo said on Sunday.

 

Agencies that will sign the pact include Shippers Council of Eastern Africa, Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association, Long Distance Truck Drivers’ Union and CFS Association of Kenya.

 

Other public sector organisations are Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, National Transport Safety Authority, Kenya Maritime Authority and Kenya Police Service.

 

The charter has been spearheaded by the Northern Corridor Transit Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA) and KTA.

Source: Gitonga Marete - Daily Nation

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