Coca-Cola's Sh500m imports released after five months stand-off

Daryl Wilson
Coca Cola Beverages Africa managing director Daryl Wilson during the interview at Radisson Blu on July 11, 2018. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

Soft drinks processor Coca-Cola’s Sh500 million worth of imports which were detained at Mombasa port in July over a dispute with the taxman and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) have been released.

Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) managing director Daryl Wilson says the goods, mainly consisting of industrial white sugar and resin, were released on November 1 after a multi-agency team tasked with the fight against counterfeits in the country certified they were up to standard.

“The goods have been cleared for release from the Port of Mombasa by the Multi-Agency Committee (MAC),” said Mr Wilson in a statement.

The imports which have been lying at container freight stations in Mombasa for five months cost Coca-Cola Sh100 million in demurrage charges.

“Before clearance, the industrial white sugar was taken through the pre-requisite quality control by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), a member of the Multi-Agency Committee and the National entity responsible for enforcement of standards.”

The government in May formed a Multi-Agency Committee to tame the flow of sub-standard goods in the country.

The team headed by deputy head of public service Wanyama Musiambo has been conducting random tests on various consumer goods across the country, particularly sugar at Mombasa port. Some of the goods seized so far include alcoholic drinks, cosmetics, building and construction materials.

Others are foodstuff, motor vehicle spare parts, cooking gas, cigarettes, household appliances and textiles.

Coca-Cola on Tuesday however said its goods have been tested by the multi-agency team on illicit goods and found to have passed the quality test as prescribed by the law.

The firm said it will continue working with the government in the fight against fake goods.

Sub-standard imports are estimated to cost the country billions of shillings through tax evasion in the form of counterfeit and unlicensed goods.

“We are committed to working with KRA, KEBS and other government agencies in the fight against counterfeit goods so that we can foster a healthy environment that supports business and economic growth,” said Mr Wilson.

While admitting that the penalties accrued as a result of delays in clearance had significantly increased the company's cost of production, the firm said it would not pass it on to consumers.