18 October 2012

Uganda: Reprieve for Traders As Port Dispute Is Resolved

The Kenya Revenue Authority withdraws cash bond issued on imports passing through Kenya

Ugandan traders have a reprieve after talks between the Ugandan Trade minister David Wakikona and his Kenyan counterpart Moses Wetangula eased the flow of transport cargo through Mombasa port, the Kenyan Standard has reported.

The traders are also relieved that a number of private container freight stations (CFSs) in Mombasa gave a 100 per cent waiver on storage charges for transit that could not be cleared for weeks following a trade stand-off over imposition of a particular cash bond as opposed to the usually general bond.

The particular bond had been imposed by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for transit vehicles of 2000cc and clearing and forwarding agents restricted to use particular insurance firms to get the bond.

Wakikona had visited the port and protested against the bond before holding the meeting with Wetangula in Nairobi that unlocked the cargo. "Things have returned to normal after the ministers met and the general bond was allowed for transit cargo. This reflects the spirit of the East African Community and we are happy," Ugandan business representative in Mombasa William Kidima said.

Speaking to Move It in Mombasa this week, Kidima commended some CFSs for giving 100 per cent waiver for storage charges of the cargoes that had accumulated at the private facilities. According to Kidima, over 4,000 vehicle units and 600 containers of sugar destined for Uganda were held up in Mombasa by the time dispute was resolved.

The controversial bond had also tied up cargo destined to other transit countries using Mombasa port like South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo and had sparked a diplomatic spate between Kenya and landlocked countries.

The CFSs that granted waiver for the cargo were Awanand, KenCont, Boss Freight, Regional and Consolibase. "Things were out of control and we thank the CFSs, which considered waiving the demurrage charges," Kidima said. He however, said they were following up reports that some clearing and forwarding agents may have experienced difficulties in processing entries for some sugar consignments.

When Wakikona toured the port, he alleged sabotage on the economies of the transit countries following the accumulation vehicle and sugar containers. He said Uganda government would write to Kenya expressing its disappointment over continued frustration of importers. "Kenya should clearly tell us whether they like us to use the port of Mombasa or not. We are disappointed that Ugandan cargo has been blocked in Mombasa for long," Wakikona had protested.

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