The Kenyan government is in negotiations with the regional shipping body over the new proposed increase in tariff on loading and discharging of some imports, The New Times has learnt.
This comes after Kenyan Ports Authority (KPA), the Kenyan government agency that runs Mombasa port, proposed to increase the tariff on loading and discharging of some imports, especially the motor vehicles not exceeding 1.5 tonnes by five per cent.
However clearing and forwarding agents have decried the proposed increase by KPA, saying it will affect the consumers across the region.
John Bosco Rusagara, a clearing and forwarding agent, said though the ports authority did not inform stakeholders, it was currently negotiating with Inter-Governmental Standard Committee on shipping (ISCOS) to revise the decision.
“We were not consulted as stakeholders. However, discussions with ISCOS are ongoing,” he said.
The inter-governmental standing committee on shipping serves as a one-stop centre of excellence for regional maritime and total logistics on coastal shipping services as well as inland waterways. Rwanda says it wants to become a member.
According to the new charges, which came in force effective March 15, 2014, the handling of motor vehicles, especially saloon, vans and station wagons not exceeding 1.5 tonnes will rise from the current $70 to $73.
Rusagara further explained that the new tariffs will not only affect the importers but also the consumers which will in turn affect the economies in the region.
“The increase in port tariffs will increase the consumer price index through reducing consumer purchasing power. Land-locked countries will become less competitive and the upsurge of smuggling of goods is likely, thus killing the manufacturing sector and the resultant shrink of the affected economies,” he said in an interview.
The new charges are considered as fresh trade barriers at the port despite the reduction in days in the clearing of goods from the port after the launch of the single customs territory by Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda last year. Clearing of containers now takes between one to two days, down from over seven days.
When contacted, Cynthia Kamau, the KPA country representative, said she was aware about the new tariffs but declined to comment since they were set by her bosses in Kenya.
“I cannot comment because the statement on the new tariffs was released by the Director General in Mombasa,” she yesterday.