Shoppers in Eastleigh will have to find other alternatives as traders in the area have closed down their malls and outlets indefinitely protesting what they termed exorbitant levies on cargo.
The traders, led by Eastleigh Business Community chairman, Sheikh Ibrahim Hussein, said the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) had arbitrarily increased tax for 40 feet containers from Sh3 million to Sh12 million.
He said the tax agency started charging the additional levies in February, this year without giving the traders notice or even consulting them. Mr Hussein said the rates have increased from the initial Sh800,000 before jumping to Sh1.2 million then to Sh3 million in late 2018.
“We have decided to close down malls and other shops until the Government listens to us. I do not know for how long this will be but if the Government (KRA) calls us for talks, which we are ready for, and we resolve the matter even now then we will reopen the premises,” said Mr Hussein on Wednesday.
He said the new levy has affected their businesses, with close to one million traders counting losses as most of their containers are still held at the port as they cannot afford the new tariffs.
“Let us dialogue as we are ready to pay taxes to the Government but let them be realistic ones. What we are opposed to is the increase of taxes without involving the stakeholders. Please engage us as we are also looking at making profits but if your idea is to chase us out of business then we are going nowhere,” he said.
He appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene so that cargo detained at the Mombasa Port is released.
“Our problem with KRA started over a year ago when they said our sugar and oil were substandard. They were retested and passed fit and the President said they be released but this is yet to happen. If they are bad then let them be destroyed,” said Mr Hussein.