The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has completed a dry run for a cargo clearance system to be on Thursday when Maersk Shipping Company makes its maiden call at the Lamu Port.
KRA Marine Unit and Enforcement chief manager John Bisonga confirmed the gigantic ship, owned by the Denmark-based Maersk Logistic Shipping Line, will be making a historic call at the Lamu Port before proceeding to the Port of Salalah in Oman.
He said the authority had installed both the Integrated Customs Management System (iCMS) and Simba Systems to ensure the 24-hour clearance systems remain uninterrupted
"KRA has completed installing and testing our clearing systems where we have iCMS and Simba system running concurrently thus we do not expect any delays. On connectivity, we have two network backups apart from the available fiber optic cable thus we do not want to experience any connectivity hitches since we want to make Lamu Port a model port," said Mr. Bisonga.
The chief manager said KRA will extend the already paperless customs clearance being done at all points of entry and exit to reduce bureaucracies and inject a level of professionalism.
He said paperless customs clearance will ensure the decision-making process is quick, transparent, and simplified thereby reducing the time and cost of doing business.
"KRA has already waived the requirement and the use of manual folders for witnessing stuffing of our tea, coffee, spices, and herbs and this will encourage traders most from Mount Kenya to use Lamu Port which is closer to them than Mombasa Port. With the use of online technology, all customs operations shall be undertaken on a 24-hour basis and thereby increasing efficiency," said Mr. Bisonga.
On the threats the Port will be facing on international illicit trade like narcotics and other goods, KRA has deployed a mobile scanner to the port as well as the use of K9 from time to time depending on the risk parameters.
"KRA is alive to the fact that international criminal elements may try to use the port of Lamu for illicit activities but we have deployed all the necessary resources both human and technological support in addition to its normal risk management strategies without interrupting the normal flow of business to curb the illicit trade," said the officer.
On operations, Lamu Port General manager Abdullahi Samatar said all agencies are ready for the opening of the second commercial port on 20th May.
"Offices are ready to occupy, firth batch of cargo handling equipment is already stationed at the firth berth which is ready for operationalisation," said Mr. Samatar.
Kenya Ships Agents Association chairperson Sylvester Kututa said they are ready to use the facility and are optimistic once the first ship makes its maiden call, more ships will be interested in using the facility considering its many advantages.
"This is a Port which can be used to feed other ports starting with Mombasa Port nd other nearby such as Dar es Salaam Port. Shipping agents have started liaising with other shipping lines to ask them to use the facility considering the incentives offered," said Mr. Katutu.
Already 19 shipping agents have visited the facility and expressed satisfaction with the development of the project.