Cargo agents decry inefficiency in SGR cargo plan


President Uhuru Kenyatta launches the upgraded Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Embakasi. PHOTO| PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta launches the upgraded Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Embakasi. PHOTO| PSCU

A section of the country’s freighters are planning to stop handling cargo should the inconveniences being experienced at the newly launched inland container depot persists.

Under their umbrella body, Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (KIFWA),  the freighters lament that bureaucratic processes at the depot are proving too costly for them with cargo lasting at least two weeks before being cleared.

KIFWA chairman William Ojonyo said with most imported cargo now nominated for the Nairobi inland container depot, the facility is overwhelmed, systems are experiencing challenges with agency lapses between the Kenya ports authority, the Kenya revenue authority and Kenya Railways.

“I can tell you for a fact that yesterday (Tuesday) there was no verification that was done here. More than 400 containers that were supposed to be out were not evacuated from the yard. Because KPA woke up one day and said you’ll not verify without their mandate and you won open the containers until they allow you,” Mr Ojonyo said.

During the commissioning of the SGR cargo service in December, it was anticipated that cargo handling, clearance and evacuation would be seamless with relevant government agencies working under one roof.

President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared categorical with his plans for speeding up cargo clearance and transport.

“I will hold you commissioner general of KRA to your word that containers that will land here will be cleared within 6 hours. Nangoja sana kuona hilo ikifanyika (I eagerly await to see that happen,” President Kenyatta said during the commissioning.

But five months later, things appear to be stalling with freighters saying it takes at least 14 days to clear cargo.

But freighters say it takes at least 14 days for cargo to be cleared.

Four days after delivery cargo attracts storage costs of between $20 and $30 a day.

The same applies to empty containers that a charged at least $15 a day if not transported back to Mombasa.

“I dropped a container last month at ICD now I am paying Sh1 million to KPA in detention fees, since no one delivered the cargo in Mombasa,” Abdul Bure, a cargo agent said.

Mr Ojonyo said freighters want a multi sectoral agency roundtable to iron out the sticky issues failure to which they will down their tools.

“Nominations or no nominations unless things are changed here we are not coming back here,” he stressed.

The government had planned to migrate between 30 and 40 percent of cargo from Kenyan roads through the SGR with the Nairobi depot as the termination point.

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Story By Patrick Igunza
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