Congolese business community has asked Kenya and Uganda to intervene to help them move their trucks that are stuck at the Malaba border.
The traders said tens of trucks carrying cargo among them fish and other perishable goods are stuck as a result of impasse over what the traders have termed double taxation.
Kenyan Congolese business community spokesperson Mukokoma Kambale said goods worth millions of shillings cannot be transported to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to a misunderstanding between authorities and the traders over taxes.
Mr Kambale said traders are being subjected to double taxation in Mombasa and at the Malaba border for their goods to be transported to their various destinations.
“We cannot pay $300 in Mombasa and pay the same amount again at Malaba border. It is unacceptable, we are stakeholders and need respect as we respect our partners,” he said
Mr Kambale is blaming freight firm, Office Congolese de Gestion du Fret Maritime (Ogefrem) for imposing double taxation, which has led to detainment of trucks at the Malaba border.
He said Invesco Ogefrem wants the traders to pay for the same amount that was paid for in Mombasa Ogefrem before the goods are allowed to pass through the border.
The importers said they are surprised by the establishment of Invesco Ogefrem, which is carrying out similar missions and delivering the same documents as Ogefrem Mombasa.
Instead of ensuring smooth movement of goods, the importers said the new office in Malaba has become a stumbling block to their business and has led to losses due to double taxation.
The traders have written a protest letter to the Ministry of Transport and Trade for both Uganda and Kenya seeking assistance to have the double taxation abolished.
The business community also wants the two governments to specify which institution between Invesco Ogefrem Malaba and Ogefrem Mombasa Port, has mandate from the Congolese government to perform this service on its behalf.
“While recalling the significant role that Congolese importers play in the economy of these two transit countries (Kenya and Uganda), we ask urgently the release of all the vehicles detained in Malaba, which is halting business and causing a lot of losses,” said Mr Kambale.
The traders also wants and an explanation as to who will bear the costs caused by the delay accumulated by the transporting companies, the delay relating to the shipping line and the damage caused to some goods .
“We believe that this Ogefrem service is supposed to be positioned at our borders in order to allow a smooth flow of operations and activities,” he said
The importers have also pleaded with DRC’’s President Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo to intervene , terming the existence of these two institution as a scam to frustrate their business.
They have termed the double taxation as an economic crime against their business.
“Being himself the first defender in the fight against corruption and any other form of injustice, we hope that President Tshisekedi will listen to our complaints. Especially since the existence of these two institutions for the same function seems to fall within the exact definition of a scam, and it is not far from economic crime,” read part of the letter to DRC president.
Mr Kambale expressed optimism that the government of Uganda that is helping DRC to find peace is also going to help the importers to find the solution to this matter which is causing them economic crime.
“We hope that the government of Uganda is going to find a solution to this because our trucks have delayed in Uganda. Some containers are carrying fish and other perishable goods. We need the help of the Ugandan and Kenyan governments so that this issue can be resolved once and for all," said Mr Kambale.