The recent crackdown on illegal trade and the subsequent move to seal loopholes that allowed free flow of contraband goods into Kenya appears to have produced unintended consequences – a pile-up of genuine imports at the Mombasa port.
Importers now say they are losing about Sh70 million daily in storage and detention charges arising from congestion at the Nairobi Inland Container Depot.
A similar situation has also been reported at the Mombasa port where a backlog of cargo has been building up after State agencies – the Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards and the Kenya Trade Network Agency – tightened the noose on imports to seal tax evasion loopholes.
The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association said it now takes more than 35 days to clear imports up from a week earlier.
This not only causes delays in delivery of key inputs and machinery to their final destinations but also drives up the cost of goods in the market.
Businesses also have to contend with loss of customers and an inefficient supply chain that compromises their bottom-line and threatens jobs.
It is for this reason that we call upon the relevant agencies to find a long-term solution to the challenges of clearing goods at the ports that will ensure speed, improve efficiency in the economy even as it enables the taxman to collect his revenue.