The Star (Nairobi)

14 December 2012

Kenya: Resolve, Axle Load Row, Say Freighters

Clearing and forwarding agents and container freight station owners in Mombasa yesterday asked the Kenya National Highways Authority and transporters to resolve the stand-off on the axle weight load.

They said they are incurring huge losses in storage and demurrage charges following the strike by transporters. The cargo is piling up at the port even as the Kenya Ports Authority management strives to ease congestion.

KPA operations general manager Captain Twalib Khamis said domestic cargo is being moved to CFSs to create room for more cargo arriving at the port.

Container Freight Stations Association of Kenya boss Daniel Nzeki yesterday told the Star that the number of uncollected cargo from the CFSs has been increasing since the start of the transporters strike at the weekend.

"In the past, we used to issue about 50 gate passes a day and the number of uncollected cargo would be low. Since the strike started, about 20 per cent of the cargo remains uncollected daily and we expect this to reach 60 per cent if a solution is not found," said Nzeki.

Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association chairman Hezron Awiti said the extra charges clearing agents incur are "too much".

"Of course there have to be extra charges as a result. These runs into millions as storage, waiting and other charges now come into place," he said.

Said Kafan, a clearing agent with Track Freight Expressline, said they now have to pay for the extra cost to keep their customers. "Some regular importers understand the situation and may even offer to pay for the extra costs, but others, especially first time importers are very harsh. They do not care. They just want their good delivered in time," he said.

Yesterday, Kenya Transport Association officials held talks with Kenha in a bid to resolve the stand-off. "We hope a solution will be reached. As we speak, our officials including chairman Paul Maiyo are engaging with Kenha officials," said KTA boss Jane Njeru.

Kenha enforced the axle load rule after a court ruled in its favour after KTA lost a suit to block the implementation of the rule. The move prompted transporters to suspend loading cargo to protest the implementation of the rule, which they said is impractical and enforced without prior notice.

The rule says any axle should not have a weight of over eight tonnes. Transporters want Kenha to use the gross weight of the cargo loaded.

Nzeki supported transporters saying Kenha should use the gross weight. He said transporters take their their crgao from the CFS only to park them at their yards.

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