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