KPA blames shipping agents for delaying goods clearance
Posted Thursday, July 26 2012 at 21:31
The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has accused shipping lines of delaying the clearance of cargo from the port through its agents’ failure to adapt to the government’s 24-hour operations directive.
The agents close their offices at 5pm, meaning that clients cannot pay clearance fees until the next day.
KPA managing director Gichiri Ndua said the agents were frustrating efforts to decongest the port by failing to work continuously as KPA and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials were doing to ease congestion.
“All our staff and KRA are working around the clock, but the shipping lines are letting us down. It is those whom the government cannot direct that are hindering smooth operations,” said Mr Ndua, during a transport stakeholders’ conference in Nairobi.
President Kibaki directed the implementation of a 24-hours seven-day service delivery at the port of Mombasa in 2008, border entry points at Lunga Lunga, Taveta, Namanga, Isabenia and Malaba to reduce congestion and delays in trade.
The Kenya Shippers Council (KSC), however, said it was not viable to have staff working at night since people rarely come to clear their cargo at that time.
“There are challenges such as security and poor lighting that limit the number of people coming to clear their goods,” said KSC head of communications Christine Munywe.
Ms Munywe said KPA was offering limited services at night and that the system was not working as expected. Other than shipping lines, commercial banks also operate only during the day.
The National Bank of Kenya extended closing hours to 11pm but later rolled back the working hours to 6pm due to low demand.
Early this year, there was congestion at the port due to lack of customs officials to clear cargo which saw goods take long to reach their destinations, resulting in higher prices of imports as storage fees increased.
The government through the ministry of transport introduced the rapid response initiative bringing together all port stakeholders which saw more KRA staff sent to the port.
Container traffic through Mombasa grew 24 per cent in the first half of 2012, helped by improved cargo handling and a stabilising global economy Reuters adds.
The port handled 10.7 million tonnes of cargo over the first-half of the year, up from 9.3 million in the same period in 2011.
Kenya is building a $300 million second container terminal at Mombasa to handle increased trade within the region, driven by a sharp growth in construction, vast infrastructure development and an emerging middle class.