The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has cleared 20 firms to bring in goods as consolidated cargo in a move expected to streamline importation of goods by small traders.
Clearing agents pool goods for small importers into one container but while some agents have in the past taken advantage and resorted to tax evasion by mis-declaring the value of goods, others have used the channel to import substandard goods.
The standards agency issued a notice to all importers of consolidated cargo, through both air and sea, to register with goods being inspected under a new rule.
The Kebs head of inspection Eric Ochieng said of the 53 firms that had applied to be considered as consolidated cargo importers, less than half of them were cleared.
“Only 20 firms have been approved to import as consolidators and we have written to the other 33 which had not met all the procedures and have not been approved,” Mr Ochieng said.
The new rule which took effect on March 30 targets cargo containing a wide range of products or merchandise in small quantities or parcels belonging to several consignees who assemble them together.
According to the new rule, all consolidated cargo must be inspected in the country of supply by agents appointed by kebs and issued with a Certificate of Inspection (CoI) before being imported into the country.
The agency has contracted agencies to carry out inspection on its behalf from across the globe under the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) programme. They include Socie’te’ Ge’ne’rale de Surveillance SA (SGS), Intertek International Ltd, China Certification and Inspection Co. Ltd (CCIC) and Bureau Veritas.
According to Kebs, consolidators were registered to ensure traceability and accountability of quality for the consolidated goods.
“Currently, the actual owners of goods are having challenges obtaining Import Standardization Marks to sell in the market outlets since it is not possible to know who they are in the documentation provided at the moment. The aspects of traceability as well as quality inspection has been addressed in the new procedure,” Kebs said in a statement.
Currently, the agency has made it difficult for goods imported without the certificate of inspection by introducing rigorous procedures for such goods.
For goods imported without the certificate, the importer or clearing agent pays inspection fee equivalent to 15 per cent of the declared customs value and execute a bond of the same amount after which the goods will be subjected to 100 per cent verification at the port and issue an inspection report.
While the bond for goods that comply with the rules will be cancelled, those that fail the test will have to be shipped back to the country of origin at their own cost with importers forfeiting the bonds.
If the goods are not re-shipped within 30 days after rejection, they will be destroyed at the importer’s cost.