Persistent delays at border crossings along the Northern Corridor and police harassment along the highway are some of the major hurdles cited as hindering seamless cargo transport along the Northern Corridor.
Players in the sector say these setbacks remain despite concerted efforts to eliminate them in a bid o make regional trade more integrated.
According to the Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) chief operations officer Mercy Ireri, most truck owners suffer losses because of delays and police interventions along the highway.
“A truck turnaround from the Port of Mombasa to Kampala is between two to three days. But then a truck upon reaching Mariakani, police will stop it and claim to have worn out tyres,” said Ms Ireri.
“Then they would take the drivers in circles and end up spending a whole day at the station. That is already a loss because the wasted time will not be compensated.”
She added that although there has been improvement at the one-stopborder posts, a lot more need to be done as clearance of goods still take unnecessarily long time.
“We are all in agreement that at least border crossing has reduced time taken from the 11 days it used to be before the introduction of the one-stop posts. But we still face some challenges that the government must address,” she said.
Sometimes, she noted a truck will take about two days without being cleared at the border, leading to more storage and demurrage charges.
“If I was to charge Sh100,000 per container and then I am delayed for about three days at the border, it means that amount of time taken there will have to be considered,” she said.
“That will definitely force me to adjust my invoice to between Sh150,000 and Sh200,00 to compensate for the delays. These are charges that will be passed on to the consumer,” said Ms Ireri.
To reduce these costs, she said the border posts ought to be made more efficiency. His sentiments were echoed by Car Importers Association of Kenya (CIAK) national chairman Peter Otieno.
“Border posts should strive to make sure seamless movement of cargo to make the truck turnaround better. We have a big challenge of delays in some of these border posts and the government should work on measures to address the problem,” said Mr Otieno.
A recent report by the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA) indicates that police intervention and border delays are some of the key factors that affect transport along the corridor.
The report included in the‘14th Issue of the Transport Observatory Report was validated recently during a workshop at Nyali Sun Africa Beach Hotel in Mombasa.
“Most of the stops occur due to rest and taking meals that recorded 718 stops in the first quarter of 2019 representing 31 percent with an average duration of 4.7 hours. Police and security checks became second factor with 320 stops along the corridor which represented 14 percent, taking an average of 0.3 hours,” said the report
Weighbridges and personal reasons each a accounted for 11 percent of their stoppage along the corridor for the period under review, with weighbridges recording 261 stop cases while personal reasons recorded 247 cases.
Customs checks saw 165 stops which represented 7 percent and taking an average of 4.6 hours.
The report further added that stops for rest and meals mostly take place at Mtito Andei, Busowa, Kikopey, Maungu, Longonot, Cheptiret, Salgaa, Bukembe, Kimaeti, Masimba, Jua Kali, Mbiko, Machakos junction, Salama, Kwa DC, and Malili. Some stop locations have no facilities according to the report seen by the Shipping.
Overall, most stops occur at Malaba, Salgaa, Mtito Andei, Maungu, Busitema, Makindu, Mlolongo, Magamaga, Mariakani, Gilgil, Longonot, Nakuru, Kikopey and Busowa.
“Other stoppage reasons given during the surveys included offloading, parking, carwash, loading return, cargo, accident, buying personal items, break down, delivering some belongings to homes, money changing (i.e M-Pesa), police timing , pressure and studs, shifting container, traffic jam, and transferring diesel to the main tank,” said the report.
“Fast-tracking the implementation of Road Side Station would significantly reduce the frequency of unnecessary stops in addition to other benefits such as health.”
Other stop cases were border post procedures that recorded 157 cases, representing 7 percent, and taking an average of 8.2 hours.
Fueling and checking of vehicles recorded 129 stops representing 6 percent and taking an average of 2.1 hours. Condition of the road was also a factor for the stops where 64 cases were recorded, representing 3 percent. Other stop cases were vehicle breakdown 52, company checkpoints 27 and insecurity 2. “Drivers are likely to be stopped four times at a police checkpoint or for other procedures at various centres along the corridor,” add the report.