Making the announcement on Tuesday, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the move is intended to combat the entry of contraband goods into the country and loss of revenue through undeclared or mis-declaration of cargo.
“Some re-organisation in the way the transit goods are treated will mitigate the matters around the proliferation of contraband cargo through the port,” he said.
The Container Freight Station association has protested the move, saying they should not be blamed for the entry of contraband into the country or the undervaluing of cargo as it is Kenya Revenue Authority agents who are responsible for the screening of containers.
“KRA is in control of the cargo scanner at the port and also has personnel at the port to open and verify any suspect consignment before release to the transit sheds. KRA also has officers stationed at the transit sheds who authorise the release of goods at the transit sheds after being satisfied that they comply with the customs laws and procedures,” association CEO Daniel Nzeki complained.
He said the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Kenya Ports Authority would be better advised to root out the corrupt in their midst than lock out CFSs from the clearing process.
“This allegation is far from the truth and is an attempt by KRA to account for its own failures in verification of consignments at the port and monitoring of transit cargo.”
KRA in January defended its move to suspend two CFSs – Autoport and Portside Container Freight Stations – owned by Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho.
KRA Commissioner General John Njiraini said the decision should not be politicised as it was taken to seal a tax loophole.
“Further actions will be taken in respect of CFS installations found, through the ongoing investigations, to be in breach by engaging in transit diversion, smuggling and other fraudulent practices.”
Joho has challenged the move in court and obtained orders for the resumption of his services but his facilities remain closed despite his threat to institute contempt of court proceedings.