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Shipping & Logistics

Unclaimed cargo importers sought

Containers at the port of Mombasa.
Containers at the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The State is pursuing consolidators of 32 unclaimed containers stuck at various entry ports following a crackdown on illicit trade that started a year ago.

The multi-agency team on illicit trade told Parliament it is yet to establish the contents of the containers because the owners have not come forward.

The 32 are part of the 383 consignments of imported goods found packed in containers alongside counterfeits that were held at the port of Mombasa.

“It is now the consolidators that we are pursuing so we can bring this matter to a conclusion,” Wanyama Musiambu, who chairs the enforcement team told the National Assembly Trade, Industry and Co-operatives committee.

He said so far, the team had cleared 306 of the 383 containers which mostly belonged to small business traders in Nairobi. The 32 undeclared containers are mostly under consolidators that kept off when the crackdown begun.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations is holding 36 other containers whose consolidators are under investigation mostly for concealment.

“We have asked the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) that those found culpable be blacklisted and removed from this business,” he said.

The remaining nine containers are either unpaid for or are in the process of being cleared at the port.

The government team which draws representation from the KRA, Kenya Bureau of Standards, Anti-Counterfeit Agency, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), Energy Regulatory Commission, Weights and Measures, among others, started work on May 11.

Its core mandate is to address illicit trade in the country, following complaints from traders that the local market is flooded with substandard, undervalued and counterfeit products.

President Uhuru Kenyatta through the National Treasury waived demurrage and storage charges for the small and medium traders who presented containers that they thought were not moving or being processed.

The one-off amnesty was applicable to goods that arrived in the country by June 30, 2018.

Following the amnesty, the multiagency team received particulars of 217 containers and another batch of 166, bringing the total to 383 containers.

Mr Musiambu did not give a timeline on when the all 383 containers will be cleared for release saying it depends solely on cooperation of the container owners.

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