Cargo owners on the spot over delays
Truck drivers have criticised cargo owners over delays to collect their goods, something they consider to be among the non tariff barriers that hamper trade within the region.
The drivers, who are mostly from Tanzania and Kenya, say they are usually held up at the national bonded warehouse, MAGERWA, for days awaiting owners of cargo to clear goods thereby incurring extra costs.
In an interview with The New Times, a Tanzanian truck driver, Ramathan Bakari, who had ferried goods belonging to Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA), said he had spent three days at the MAGERWA premises.
“It’s a serious challenge we encounter as drivers. I’m here and I don’t know exactly when the owners of the cargo will come to collect and clear their goods.”
Despite the removal of trade barriers in Rwanda, drivers claim they still encounter challenges and call for more interventions to facilitate their work.
Adam Mohamed, a Kenyan driver who ferried goods belonging to Rwanda Cement Company Ltd (Cimerwa) said they have spent over five days idling at Magerwa.
“In Rwanda, generally, it’s a problem unlike in Uganda or Tanzania where cargo owners avail themselves to clear and take delivery of goods immediately. We have now spent five days here and continue to incur extra costs.”
In an interview with The New Times, the Commercial Director of Cimerwa, Samuel Kasule Rusagara, denied any liability for the delays and instead clarified that they solely deal with suppliers. He, however, acknowledged there was a communication breakdown between the transport company and their suppliers.
“We are informed that there was miscommunication between the two parties. The transporter thought that final destination was Kigali, which is not the case. The two parties failed to agree on the additional fee, and so the consignment was taken to the transporters yard in Kigali.
“We source goods through the Cost Insurance and Freights (C.I.F) set-up meaning we receive them in our premises. As owners of the goods, we become concerned if our goods delay along the way, but at times, it has to do with issues beyond our control like third party transporters.”
He pointed out that he had been informed the goods were being transported to the firm’s Cyangugu plant in the Western Province.
In response to the drivers’ allegation, the EWSA procurement manager, Gloriose Mwanankundi, said the delay arose after the East African Cables Ltd delayed to provide clearance papers for them to access their goods.
“You can’t access goods at the warehouse (Magerwa) without getting clearance documents from the supplier. Unfortunately, the East African Cables Ltd delayed to provide us with the documents.”
The Minister of East African Community (EAC) affairs, Monique Mukaruliza, announced that her ministry would investigate whether Magerwa or the Rwanda Revenue Authority were liable for any delays.
The drivers, however, admitted they no longer face hurdles especially those associated with roadblocks and weighbridges, which they alleged was a key issue in other regional countries.
Earlier this month, the Ugandan State Minister of Works, John Byabagambi, said Uganda would install three more weighbridges, a revelation that has drawn angry reactions from traders.
Inspite of efforts by member states of the East African Community to eliminate trade barriers, traders and truckers continue to encounter challenges brought about by reluctance to implement treaties.
In a meeting held in Mombasa, Kenya, in March this year, the respective ministers of Trade in the EAC had agreed not to put up any more weighbridges.
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