Traders protest new Kenya cargo clearing charges

Truck drivers plying the Rwanda-Kenya route have protested new clearing charges levied at Mombasa port, saying it is illegal.
Long distance truck drivers await clearance at Magerwa. The New Times/  File.
Long distance truck drivers await clearance at Magerwa. The New Times/ File.

Truck drivers plying the Rwanda-Kenya route have protested new clearing charges levied at Mombasa port, saying it is illegal.

Some of the drivers yesterday told The New Times that the new charges were raised last Tuesday after the March 4 Kenya general elections.

In the run up to the elections, the traders had suspended movement to Kenya for fear that violence could flare up and wrong elements would target trucks bearing foreign number plates.

Aboudoul Ndaruhogeye, one of the traders, said ever since they resumed operations, last Tuesday, clearing agents are asking traders to pay extra money for their cargo without justification, an issue he says  has forced some truck drivers to use illegal routes.

Ndaruhogeye said the agents are charging them Ksh3,500 (about Rwf26,000) per truck up from Ksh1,000 (about Rwf745). He said the charges apply to trucks from Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and DRC.

“My 12 export trucks were clamped until I paid Ksh48,000 (about Rwf358,000) without any justification document,” Ndaruhogeye said.

 “We are worried about our safety as they are targeting trucks with foreign number plates and if we don’t pay, they block our trucks,” he added.

Most of the East African region-bound cargo comes in through Mombasa.

Claude Rwagasore, the director of Trust Clearing Company-Rwanda, said the new charges started after the elections when Kenyan clearing agents started fixing  their own taxes.

“You never know, let us wait what Uhuru Kenyatta’s (President-elect) victory brings for the regions,” he added.

He said before elections, they could clear more than 24 trucks per day, but nowadays they can only clear six trucks.

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