Motor vehicle importers on Friday complained that delays at the Mombasa port persist days after the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) said it had addressed technical hitches tied to a new clearance IT system.
Charles Munyori, the secretary-general of Kenya Auto Bazaar Association, a lobby group for second-hand car dealers told Business Daily the dealers were "stranded and want the congestion unlocked".
“It seems like the new system is not working like the way it’s supposed to be,” Mr Munyori said.
“People who paid duty last month still have their cars stuck at the port,” Mr Munyori said, adding that it took less time for clearance prior to the implementation of the new system.
The KRA last week assured importers that it was addressing the hitches of the new Integrated Customs Management System (iCMS). The KRA said the new system would reduce clearing time by at least 60 percent.
The iCMS is a single window system that involves filing export and import documents into a common portal.
“KRA is working on enhancing user experience as piloting of additional cargo types kicks off. We are currently piloting on motor vehicles with a controlled group of stakeholders and addressing all issues along the way,” KRA commissioner for Customs and Border Control Kevin Safari said.
“Since its rollout, there has never been any major technical hitches, both short term and persistent.”
Motor vehicle importers had earlier raised fears of pile-up of the uncleared units following system delays.
“As importers, delay on clearance means delays on orders as suppliers and end-users wait longer to get their units,” Stella Koech, a manager at JPC Trade, a Tokyo-based Japanese used car dealer, had said.
“Delays are happening due to the non-familiarity with the system,” she added.
Kenya’s car market is dominated by low-priced second-hand imports from countries such as Japan.
Official data released shows that the country shipped in 20,324 units at a cost of Sh19 billion between January and March. In a similar period last year, Kenya imported 19,433 vehicles, which was 4.5 percent fewer, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
The importers had asked the KRA to iron out teething problems immediately to facilitate their business.
Local car assemblers have been seeking to wrest market share from used car sellers who account for about 80 percent of vehicle sales.
Mr Safari told the Business Daily that the KRA has beefed up training of users and established “onsite support framework.”
He had said about 6,156 individuals have been trained in the new system, including clearing agents, importers, shipping agents, consolidators, EPZ operators, ground handlers, CFS operators and insurance companies.
“Training and sensitisation on iCMS has been on-going since 2017,” said Mr Safari. “The KRA has put in place an elaborate support framework that ensures quick resolution of any reported issues.”
The KRA launched the new system in 2016 in line with the World Trade Organisation’s requirement for simplification and harmonisation of international trade procedures.
The iCMS system replaces the Simba System, which ran on multiple platforms and required multiple points of authentication for users, thereby taking more time.