Importers will from next week be required to obtain the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) security seal before shipping containers into the country in yet another regulatory effort to curb revenue leakage.
Kebs Managing Director Evans Ongwae said all full-load containers that are subject to inspection and testing under the pre-arrival cargo processing system will require the tamper-proof seal from September 1.
“All-full load containers for goods certified under Route A... shipped on or after September 1, 2016, shall be required to be sealed by the PVoC agents after inspection in the country of supply,” Mr Ongwae said in a notice published on the agency’s website.
The Pre-export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) to standards scheme requires all sea and air carriers to ensure that their cargo is inspected and certified by appointed agents in the source markets.
The route applied for depends on the frequency of exporters’ shipments to Kenya and the level of compliance demonstrated when applying for certification.
Under Route A, which is open to all products exported by either traders or manufacturers, goods have to undergo both testing and physical inspection to demonstrate conformity to relevant standards.
This means that in addition to the certificate of conformity, importers will be required to have their containers sealed by Kebs agents before shipment.
“Any consignments not bearing the seal by the PVoC agent shall be subjected to full inspection at the port of destination at the importer’s cost,” he said.
PVoC is a way of reducing the influx of substandard goods in the country and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has been using the pre-arrival inspection to speed up cargo clearance and avoid revenue leakages. KRA targets to handle up to 70 per cent of cargo at Mombasa port through this clearance system.
Use of the fool-proof new Import Standardisation Mark (ISM) by Kebs went live this month after the expiry of the grace period that the agency had given importers and traders.
Each of the ISM stickers has features similar to those of excise stamps or visa stickers, some visible to the naked eye and others only detectable using UV light.
The new stickers will be specific to each product and will cost Sh0.49 payable directly to the standards agency.
The use of the stamp will enable the quality control agency to carry out real time validation and verification of goods bearing its quality mark.
The ISM stickers will have a code with details on the product and certification status for traceability.
They will also come with a code scanned using smartphones to authenticate the legitimacy of goods.
Consumers will also be able to authenticate the validity of goods before purchase through an online platform and via an SMS short code service.
Kebs acquired the new tamper proof stamps last September as a way of curbing fake quality marks used in the importation of counterfeits and substandard commodities.
Last year the regulator allowed traders to sell products that had already been imported into the market without the new stickers until July 30, 2016.
Kebs will seize and destroy imported goods that will not bear the mark on the assumption that they are either counterfeit or substandard.
Unlike before when the standardisation mark was sent to importers on soft copy for printing, only the regulator and its appointed agencies will print the stamp and fix it on imported items.