Shipping & Logistics

Clearing agents say they lost Sh600m over election jitters

Movement of goods was low after last week’s polls. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Movement of goods was low after last week’s polls. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Clearing and forwarding agents have said they incurred a Sh600 million loss as traders scaled down their activities at the Port of Mombasa over electoral anxiety.

The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (KIFWA), which represents 1,350 clearing and forwarding firms, said the losses were incurred in the seven days that cargo did not move to various destinations.

The port serves Kenya’s industrial hinterland as well as landlocked states in the region.

Kifwa chairman William Ojonyo said container freight stations have in the last few days been operating for just a few hours as opposed to the normal 24-hour basis.

“As agents we were ready to resume work last Wednesday, but what has happened after voting day has left us counting losses,” he said.

The agents play a crucial role in moving both goods and the economy in specific trade zones.

Under the East Africa Community context, Kenyan agents are strategically placed given the Port of Mombasa and Lake Victoria mouths that ensure effective movement of cargo along both the northern and southern corridors.

Cargo loss has a ripple effect on the value chain from the importer, the manufacturers up to the consumers of the goods.

Mr Ojonyo noted that that importers were incurring additional storage costs because of slow movement of cargo.

“The opposition should follow the constitutionally laid down procedures and seek redress in the courts instead of the streets,” he said.

Goods or cargo into or in transit through Kenya are channelled either by sea, road, rail or air.

By sea, all goods must be offloaded at any of the port facilities, prominently Mombasa, by air through the major international airports — the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Eldoret International Airport or Mombasa International Airport.

The goods by rail or road into the country from neighbouring countries or in transit to and from the landlocked countries is cleared through the border point stations manned by customs department and the immigration department.

Reduced cargo activities at the ports of Mombasa, the JKIA, as well as Malaba and Namanga border points mean that the taxman will struggle to meet its targets.

Slow business at the ports affects revenue collection by the Kenya Revenue Authority.

Customs agents play a pivotal role in partnering with the taxman to ensure both border control and tax collection to ensure safe borders and tax collection to spur the government agenda on development.