PUBLISHED ON January 19th, 2015

Ugandan trades escalate cargo dispute to EAC

A long-running feud between Ugandan traders and Kenyan authorities over the auction of uncollected cargo at the port of Mombasa has been escalated to the East African Community leadership amid claims of unfairness.

Uganda has accused Kenya of imposing a new non-tariff barrier by “selectively auctioning Ugandan goods held at the port of Mombasa”.

In the latest status update to the EAC on trade with Kenya, Uganda has also raised concern over increased impounding of suspected counterfeit goods meant for its market at the port of Mombasa.

“Lengthy, restrictive and unclear administrative procedures of licensing Uganda-owned container freight stations and warehouses in Kenya are non-tariff barriers (NTBs),” Uganda said in the new audit results published by EAC secretary-general Richard Sezibera.

Teams from Uganda and Kenya in charge of eliminating NTBs are expected to deliberate and find a solution to the problem or have it referred to the bloc’s top decision organ, the Council of Ministers, for action.

Kenyan officials have been engaged in a long-running spat with Ugandan traders over uncollected cargo at the port.

Mombasa port has in recent years experienced congestion, which Kenya Ports Authority attributed to lack of space following delays by importers and clearing agents to promptly collect containers.

The port is seen as a measure of economic activity in East Africa as it handles fuel, consumer goods and other imports for Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, DRC and Somalia as well as exports of tea and coffee from the region.

Only this week, the Uganda Revenue Authority cautioned traders against choking the Mombasa port with thousands of uncollected cargo containers ahead of an expected surge in trade volumes at the harbour.

“Owners of the goods are requested to immediately clear the goods out of the port as delays in clearance will lead to accumulation of storage and customs warehouse charges,” Richard Kamajugo, commissioner for customs, said in a notice to traders.

“Please note the goods may be deemed to have been abandoned and be disposed of through auction to create space for incoming cargo.”

The warning came as inventories showed that some 3,698 cargo containers destined for Uganda remained uncollected at the port as at last Monday, raising concerns of clogging at the port when business picks up after the festive season.

A shipping list released by KPA on Tuesday showed an anticipated jump in the volume of activity at the port with some 34 container ships expected to dock over the next 14 days.

Source: Business Daily

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