Ocir- Thé, the institution that is in charge of developing the tea industry in Rwanda has requested Kenyan authorities to reduce parking charges levied on the vehicles that make its shipments to the Mombasa tea auction market.
The appeal follows a recent decision by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (Kephis) that led to a sharp increase in charges from Ksh5,000 (Rwf36,699) to Kes20,000 (Rwf146,798) per vehicle. However Kephis later revised the fee, downwards to Ksh10,000 following a protest from several industry players.
Anthony Butera, the Director General of Ocir-Thé told Business Times yesterday that the levy is still too high, adding that it will drive transport fares high and undermine the competitiveness of Rwandan teas.
“The high levy will make transport costs high, directly affecting farmers and the entire tea industry,” he said.
Transport fares from Kigali to Mombasa recently increased from Rwf70,000 to Rwf85,000 per tonne loaded on a lorry.
Butera said that they were in negotiations with the Kenyan authorities to scrap the levy so as to ease Rwanda’s tea exports.
Ocir-Thé had projected an increase in tea revenues of 18.5 percent to $64 million (Rwf38 million) in the financial year 2010/2011 from $54 million (Rwf 32.1 million) in the previous year but says that with the new levy’s the target might not be met. National tea production is projected to grow from 24 metric tonnes to 26 metric tonnes this financial year.
Rwanda is one of the countries that offer the best teas at the weekly Mombasa auction market. Tea is also one f the country’s top exports together with coffee and minerals.