27 February 2013

Kenya: Bribery a Major Trade Barrier - Study

Photo: The Daily Nation
A container is offloaded from a ship at Mombasa port.

Kenyan exporters and importers part with an average Sh500,000 to bribe officials for each shipment, according to a study released yesterday.

Out of this about Sh250,000 goes to customs officials, Sh150,000 to port officials and Sh100,000 to police officers according to the survey commissioned by International Trade Center and conducted by Ipsos Synovate.

Bribery is among other 20 categories of non-tariff barriers identified as a hindrance to Kenya's international trade.

According to the survey, more bribes are paid on the road on the many weighbridges along the transit corridors.

The average number of road blocks between Mombasa and Malaba or Namanga is 12, and on each road block trucks have to pay Sh1,000 to police officers.

The weigh bridges also bring delays as they spend at least an hour on each leading to over three days between Mombasa and Malaba.

Firms surveyed said they lose an average Sh600,000 annually due to breakage or spoilage in transit. Of this 45 per cent is due to the delays in customs and issuance of permits and and 20 per cent due to to border transit delays.

The average waiting time for business license for export/import business is three weeks. Sixty per cent of businesses cited lack of ICT infrastructure and insufficient human resources as a major cause of delays.

ITC, an agency of the World Trade Organisation has raised concern over the slow pace of Kenya in eliminating these non-tariff barriers.

Olga Solleder an ITC official warns Kenya and other EAC countries to eliminate NTBs that are not WTO compliant with immediate effect.

"Such NTM include the operation of weighbridges for intra-EAC goods transit, the use of only national clearing agents, imposition of entrance fees for traders and products and so on," she said during the National workshop on Non Tariff Measures held yesterday.

"There is need to remove the numerous weighbridges as the trucks can be weighed at the port of entry and exit hence no need to weigh the sealed trucks in between the ports," she said.

ITC also recommended the prosecution of of those who solicit bribes, computerisation of all operations and retraining of staff.

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