New customs technology blamed for JKIA cargo delays

The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.
The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO 

Kenya Revenue Authority’s (KRA) recently installed cargo clearance system has come into sharp focus as delays hit imports shipped in via the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The delay has particularly affected the imports ordered via DHL, TNT and Delta Handling Services since KRA introduced its Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICMS) late last year. The KRA declined to respond to our queries.

Importers said the system meant to cut cargo clearance time to one day has instead prolonged the process to more than three weeks. Before its installation, cargo clearance used to last a maximum of three days at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

“The ICMS’s instability has impacted our clearance lead time and created a serious backlog hence the delay in clearance,” Mr John Muriithi, a DHL customs clearance supervisor told the Business Daily last week.

A number of traders complained of delays with one importer saying laboratory equipment worth Sh100,000 which arrived via DHL late January were yet to be cleared


Ms Jacqueline Ndegwa, a customs service agent with Delta Services said the delays had hit most of their deliveries. “(KRA) Customs have rolled out a new system ICMS and all the direct assessment shipments have to clear through the system and therefore no manual clearance,” she said

When it introduced the ICMS last year, KRA told importers to expect “a robust and efficient system that runs on the latest technological platforms.”

It was supposed to seamlessly connect KRA’s internal systems and external stakeholders to achieve faster cargo clearance.

“The ICMS is aimed at improving Kenya’s Ease of Doing Business by simplifying processes that enable pre-arrival processing,” said KRA in an earlier statement.

Data from the Economic Survey indicates that JKIA handles 273,000 tonnes of cargo per year. According to the Central Bank, KRA had raised over Sh15bn, from customs and other small taxes in the five months to November.