Clearing agents protest Kebs cargo import rule

Clearing agents are up in arms against a directive on the importation of mixed cargo, which requires them to use consolidators to bring the goods into the country.

The Kenya International Freight Forwarders Warehousing Association (Kifwa) yesterday said importers are being forced to use specific companies(consolidators), appointed by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS).

According to Kifwa, importers of goods such as mobile phones, bringing in mobile accessories, are forced to use a consolidator, failure to which Kebs refuses to inspect their goods.

Importers bringing into the country two to three different types of goods in the same container are forced to secure a single invoice, despite them making purchases at different suppliers.

Failure to which, they(importers) are denied Certificate of Conformity (CoC)- reference documents in Customs declaration in terms of quality, quantity and value of imported goods.

“Kebs is forcing importers to use their designated brokers to import such goods. This amounts to impunity,” Kifwa national chairman Roy Mwanthi said yesterday.

“This is bureaucratic and a big hindrance to trade because you might not find all your stuff from one supplier.  In such scenarios they advise you to use consolidators whom they have licensed to arrange for inspection and shipment of your goods which becomes too expensive to clients importing full load containers,” Mwanthi added.

Mwanthi who spoke to the Star yesterday has since called on the Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina to intervene.

“CS Betty Maina should help remove trade barriers that are negatively affecting  Kenyans,” Mwanthi said.

Kebs registered consolidators, as of last year, included Afrisali Air Cargo limited, Evergreen Logistics, Stellar Logistics Limited, African Salihiya cargo and clearance, Nurex cargo and clearings, Salama Cargo Kenya Limited and Nor Salama Cargo Limited.

Others are Golden Gate Cargo Services, Safariline Cargo, Seatel Investment, Eye Link Cargo Limited, Kesom Freight International, AKL International Limited, Trade Base Company, Rolling Cargo, Hopex General Trading, Huduma Carlid Limited, Meeriz Enterprises and Rainbow Cargo.

Kebs also had Salihiya Cargo and Shipping, Spec Sasa Logistics Limited and Tellam International Limited on its list.

“It is high time the government relaxes these retrogressive trade barriers that do not add value to our ailing economy.  It does not matter from how many suppliers one sources his or her goods from,  provided they conform to standards,” Mwanthi said.

A section of importers have been forced to import goods without pre-shipment inspection and carry out a local inspection upon arrival of the goods where they are charged a penalty of five per cent (5%) of cost insurance and freight value by Kebs, Kifwa said, noting this is expensive and time-wasting.

Kebs has however denied the allegations, saying it does not set rules on sources to import from.

“If they have an issue let them communicate to Kebs. However, there is no way we can force importers or anyone to the use of any specific person to bring their goods. That is the choice of the trader,” Kebs head of department (inspection)Amin Ahmed told the Star on phone.

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