Kenya Ports Authority’s (KPA) recent decision to raise port user fees, effective Saturday (December 1), could raise traders’ costs by Sh3.8 billion annually translating to higher commodity prices.
Stakeholders, including Kenya Shippers Council (KSC), the Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Association (FEAFFA) and the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) have asked KPA to freeze the charges, arguing that their views were not considered.
The new charges are for marine services and ship dues, stevedoring and shore-handling, wharfage and storage.
Stevedoring is the charge for offloading and loading, while wharfage is the fee charged on a ship for docking at a port.
“KSC is indeed opposed to the tariff review in view of the clandestine manner in which the review was handled,” said its chairman, Gilbert Lang’at.
FEAFFA, in a statement, posted on its website said the tariffs will increase the cost of doing business, leading to high commodity prices for consumers.
KPA said the new charges were due to the high cost of fuel and electricity, among others.
“We consulted them and gave enough time. They gave us their views which we took into consideration before coming up with the final tariffs,” KPA spokesman Hajj Masemo said.
The move comes after Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) introduced a cash bond on goods in transit to Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi provoking a diplomatic row that prompted the intervention of Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni. Negotiations to resolve the matter are ongoing.
The shore handling fee for local containers has been increased by Sh1,360 ($16) a container, while transit containers will pay Sh850 ($10) more.
Ships offloading goods at the port will pay an extra Sh1,062 for local and transit cargo.
Loading and unloading a ship will go up by Sh985 ($11) a container. Containers handled through the port rose by 19.6 per cent between 2010 and 2011.
“Unless inefficiencies that lead to significant losses to traders are sufficiently addressed, the new tariff will put undue pressure on traders and subsequently negatively affect the cost of goods in Kenya and East Africa,” said Mr Lang’at.