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Rwandan Importers Demand Own Cargo Area at Mombasa Port

Despite the endeavor by EAC heads of state to aocate for the removal of all trade barriers on the so-called Northern Corridor, Rwandan importers are still crying over what they consider as trade barrier at Mombasa port. The Northern Corridor describes a network of roads, railways, and pipelines that serve the most important transport route in the EAC from the Kenyan port of Mombasa, through Kampala, to Kigali, Bujumbura, and the DRC.

At a one day event organised by the Kenya Ports Authority in Kigali on March 18 to discuss the efficiency of Mombasa port, Rwandan traders said its officials including KPA Director General Gichiri Ndua, are part of the problem on this route.

They said goods clearance at the Mombasa port is still a big problem and requires urgent interventions if the free movement of goods on Northern corridor is to become a reality. Experts say trade barriers along this route lead to high trading costs which, in turn, mean high prices for traders and consumers especially in landlocked countries like Rwanda. It’s predicted that if such obstacles continue to increase, it will tempt traders to hike prices which eventually has a negative impact on the economy.

Jean Baptiste Gasangwa, a Rwandan businessman based in Mombasa said the port authority officials have poor management systems leading Rwandan traders to sometimes fail to have their goods cleared because of inefficiency. He says this has continued to hamper their operations.

Gasangwa, who also acts as Rwanda Private Sector Federation representative at the port observed that cargo destining to Rwanda spends unnecessarily long periods awaiting to be verified by the port authority which is perilous especially when goods are perishables. “We need our own space for our goods where the verification can be done. Why does it still take time for the goods to be verified by the Kenya Ports Authority? We don’t have parking space for our trucks?” he said, “There is still inefficiency at the port.”

Despite the implementation of Single Customs Territory at the port where Rwandan clearing agents and customs are based, according to traders, there still challenges that requires immediate solutions. Mombasa port is a gateway for the imports and exports destining to landlocked countries in east and central Africa. According to the statistics 40 percent of Rwandan import and exports pass through the Kenyan port. Part of the problem could be a result of growing volumes of goods. The Port of Mombasa recorded a total cargo throughput of 24.875 million in 2014 compared with 22.307 million tons handled in 2013, reflecting a notable increase of 11.5 per cent.

Container Traffic

In 2014, the Port handled a total of 1,012,002 TEUs against 894,000 TEUs handled in 2013 which is a notable increase by 118,002 TEUs or 13.2 per cent.

Transit Traffic

The port recorded total transit traffic of 7,199,140 tons in 2014 against 6,709,236 tons realised in the corresponding period in 2013, representing a volume increase of 489,904 tons or 7.3 per cent. This was as a result of increased handling of Ugandan cargo by 609,830 tons or 12.4 per cent.

John Bosco Rusagara, the chairman of the Rwanda Shippers Council said Rwandan traders need help from KPA. He said there is lack of access to the Automated Customs Systems, inadequate security instruments, and multiple customs authorities administering the single customs territory.

Rwandan cargo reduction

Rwanda destined cargo handled at the Mombasa port reduced last year as a result of traders diverting to Dar port in Tanzania which is nearest gateway for the country’s exports and imports. Up to 60 percent of Rwanda’s cargo now goes through Tanzania.

The Mombasa port handled a total of 235,912 tons in 2014 against 240,099 tons in 2013, posting a marginal decrease of 4,187 tons or 1.7 per cent. This performance represents 3.3 per cent market share of the transit traffic. Uganda’s traffic increased by 609,803 tons or 12.4 per cent, up from 4,912,316 tons in 2013 to 5,522,119 tons in 2014. While imports increased by 13.8 per cent, exports on the other hand recorded a 3.6 per cent decrease.

KPA speaks out

The Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director Gichiri Ndua promised the necessary support to provide the permanent solution to all the existing challenges hindering Rwandan traders at the port.

He concurred with traders that there are still barriers and pledged immediate interventions to ensure free movement of regional cargos.

Long stay containers:

“An efficient Port requires ample yard space for flexible shore handling operations. This is only possible when customers consistently remove their containers from the Port immediately they land or within the allowed free stay period. Unfortunately, some of us leave our cargo uncollected beyond the stipulated time thus incurring huge storage costs,” Gichiri Ndua said.

“Because we are in dire need of the prime yard space and in the spirit of supporting business growth in East Africa, the government of Kenya has given a waiver for collection of specific long stay containers at the Port until the stipulated deadline of 15th April 2015. We therefore appeal to you to take aantage of this opportunity and collect your consignments to avoid their auctioning,”

Source : The Independent

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