Uhuru hands traders lifeline in clearance of cargo at railways hub


President Uhuru Kenyatta takes a group photo with members of the Importers and Small Traders Association (ISTA) during the opening of the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) Customs Transit Shed. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Small-scale traders who consolidate their imported cargo will now be able to clear the goods individually at the Nairobi Railway Station, eliminating the need to use costly clearing agents and the Sh100,000 container deposit.

The clearing process will be even easier for those with goods of Customs value of $10,000 who can make import declaration on a mobile app while those with goods of Customs value above $10,000 will clear through a registered clearing agent in the Customs system.

President Uhuru Kenyatta Tuesday launched the initiative that comprise a new Container Freight Station at the Kenya Railways Corporation transit shade where the consolidated cargo importers will have their goods cleared and released for either rail or road transport to their destinations.

The cargo clearance plan is expected to be faster than the initial approach where the consolidated goods were cleared as a single container unit at the Inland Container Depot.

Traders will also have an option of receiving their goods in other towns like Nakuru, Nanyuki and Kisumu when the same set up is implemented, according to President Kenyatta.

“We want traders to conduct business in a conducive environment without being harassed so that they can grow and create jobs as they pay more taxes. With this facility, they will not have to pay the $1,000 as container deposits, which will subsequently reduce the cost of doing business,” he said.

The Kenya Revenue Authority estimates that the transit shade is expected to serve about 7, 500 small traders in Nairobi and its environs and yield about Sh100 million in taxes every month.

An additional shade is expected to be constructed to boost its capacity from the current 100-40 foot containers a month to about 300 containers in the post-Covid period and increase its tax yield to Sh1 billion.

Treasury Secretary Ukur Yatani said the facility would make trade easier for the small traders by reducing transport cost for those located in the central business district who will not have to go to Embakasi, to collect their goods.

“This is part of our initiatives to bring services closer to taxpayers and facilitate them to conduct their business effectively and efficiently,” he said.