PUBLISHED ON December 15th, 2014

EAC waives fines on overdue cargo at Mombasa port

Importers from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have up to February to collect cargo that has overstayed at the Mombasa port without paying fines after the three heads of state waived the charges last week.

The Shippers Council of Eastern Africa said the move would help clear a backlog even as it cautioned of the risk of encouraging defaulters.

“The move will help free up space at the port. But it may encourage opportunists who may want to default while looking forward to such windows,” said chief executive Gilbert Langat.

The council said a 20-foot container attracts a storage fee of $25 (Sh2,262) a day and $40 (Sh3,619) for double the size, which the Kenya Ports Authority will now have to forgo.

The overdue cargo also attracts demurrage charges on containers used to store the merchandise.

The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat is expected to publish the names of traders whose cargo are pending at the port and the commencement for the waiver.

“It was directed that cargo overstayed at the port of Mombasa shall be granted full waiver of customs warehouse rent and port demurrage charges to facilitate removal within 60 days from date of publication of notice…” reads a joint communiqué issued following last week’s infrastructure meeting.

Hefty charges

The eighth edition of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit held in Nairobi was attended President Uhuru Kenyatta, President Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and President Paul Kagame (Rwanda).

The shippers council, the lobby for exporters and importers in the region, said some cargo at the port have overstayed for years attracting hefty charges.

Mr Langat cited a lack of finances upfront as a main factor for defaulting which over time translates to charges outgrowing the value of the merchandise, sapping traders’ incentive to clear it.

During the summit, the three heads of state directed the revenue authorities from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to smoothen out layers of bureaucracy in cargo clearance at the Mombasa port.

This is after it was disclosed that almost 1,800 clearing and forwarding agents had been locked out from utilising the systems used by Uganda and Rwanda to clear goods at the port due to a lack of training.

The EAC bloc has adopted a single customs territory system to boost trade and strengthen the integration of the region in which officers from Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya operate from Mombasa port.

Source: Business Daily

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