Some of the inspection agencies that were removed from the port following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive last year have illegally resumed operations. This is according to importers who say the agencies are not only flouting the president’s directive, but they are causing delays in release of cargo.
The importers say the Port of Mombasa and Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Nairobi are now experiencing more delays in removing cargo from the facilities after issuance of release order.
According to the latest Northern Corridor weekly performance report, the average time between entry of release order and removal of container increased from an average of 35.33 hours in the week ended January 14 to 41.89 hours in last week’s performance.
Custom release time — the average time between passing/acceptance of customs entry registration and issuance of customs release order — also increased from an average time of 33.75 hours in the previous week’s performance to 44.58 hours in the recent statistics.
Some 20 agencies were suspended from the port through a memo sent from State House on June 4. Only the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Port health and Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) were given full access to the port facilities.
The importers allege that some of the agencies such as the National Intelligence Service, the Directorate of Criminal Investigation, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services and the Anti-Counterfeit Agency are now interfering with the cargo clearance hence forcing them to incur demurrages as a result of delays in clearing.
"The return of the agencies at the port and ICD is affecting our day-to-day activities, a proof that they have disregarded President Uhuru Kenyatta's directive,” said one of the importers who requested anonymity.
“Since the directive was issued, we benefited from speedy clearance of cargo but now we are back where we had been."
According to the traders, a number of containers are being held at the ICD in Nairobi for verification by different agencies including counterfeit agencies and Kenya Plant health inspectorate Service (Kephis).
The Port of Mombasa which clears more than 1,300 twenty-foot-equivalent Units (Teus) had at least 27 agencies working in different stages of clearing the cargo before the president’s directive. This caused congestion and delays at the facility, which made traders to pay costly demurrages.
Traders have also raised concerns over double verification by the Kebs despite their cargo undergoing Pre-Verification of Conformity (PVOC) at the point of export, and information relayed to our customs and standards teams.
President Kenyatta ordered all goods upon undergoing PVOC at the point of origin should not be subjected to further inspection unless there is prior intelligence on non-compliance. Since the issuance of the order, there has been a blame-game among key agencies handling the cargo, accusing each of refusing to share crucial imports and exports data.
Despite these challenges, in the weekly report, most of cargo handling indicators recorded positive performance with the average time difference between ship entering port area and exiting recording most improved time surpassing set target of 72 hours from 108 hours in the week ended January 14 to an average of 51.89 hours last week.
Ship waiting time also improved from 13 hours previous week to 12.10 hours in the last weeks' performance records while containerised cargo dwell time — which is an average time between landing and exit of container from the port— recorded average of 51.71 hours last week from 65.65 hours in the previous week.
At Document Processing Centre, time between passing of customs entry registration and issuance of release order recorded two hours from previous 2.63 hours.
Number of truckers using Namanga borders increased twofold as recorded in the Athi River weighbridge traffic, which registered an average of 11,418.71 trucks weighed daily last week compared to 6,537 trucks in the previous week which ended on January 14.
Mariakani weighbridge only recorded an average of 4,522.71 trucks compared to previous total of 4,250 trucks.
At Malaba border, an average time between issuance of release order and issuance of certificate of export at border crossing reduced from 120.21 hours in the week ended January 14 to 71.46 hours last week.