Traders are expected to meet Mombasa port managers next week to resolve a row over the increase in tariffs.
The Kenya Shippers Council (KSC) chief executive officer Gilbert Lang’at Wednesday said his team would demand that the Kenya Ports Authority reduce the charges effected last month.
“We are carrying out an analysis on the effects of the new rates and we expect to present a strong case to them,” said Mr Lang’at in a telephone interview. Shippers were not consulted over the increase, he said.
The new tariffs have seen Container Freight Stations (CFSs) charge verification fees for all local cargo $80 (Sh6,400) and $120 (Sh9,600) for 20- and 40-foot containers, respectively.
Previously this was only charged when importers requested the service.
Extra charges levied on cargo are passed on to consumers, making commodities more expensive besides rendering the port uncompetitive compared with other ports.
The raising of charges on services at the port translates to an increase of between 12.75 per cent and 13.15 per cent according to a clearing and forwarding agent who cannot be named without compromising his position.
He said KPA had already obtained an approval from the Ministry of Transport to implement the new tariff even before they consulted the stakeholders. “They were just taking us for a ride. We are going to challenge the new rates in court,” said the source.
Mr Lang’at said the shippers’ council, the umbrella body for importers and exporters, would go to court if other avenues failed to bear fruit.
“We have decided to pursue dialogue as a matter of principal until we establish that the only redress will be the court,” he said.
The body is also lobbying for the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) to be given autonomy to rein in unilateral decisions to increase tariffs.
“The industry regulator is constrained because some of the regulations in the Shipping Act are not operational, the reason service providers are taking advantage,” he added.
KPA, however, said it organised several forums to sensitise stakeholders.
“Nobody should say that we did not involve them because we even held forums with port users in Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda,” said KPA public relations officer Hajj Masemo.
He said it would be difficult to reduce the charges when the tariff was already operational.