Importers in the region have called on the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and the Kenya Ship Agents Association to increase the free demurrage quota and free cargo period as a result of slow clearance and transportation of goods due to lockdowns and curfews imposed by various countries.
They want KPA to increase the free cargo period from four to 11 days for local cargo and from nine days to 21 days for transit cargo.
The importers have also asked shipping agents to increase the demurrage period to cushion them against extra expenses as a result of delays in clearance of cargo.
“We are asking shipping agents to increase the free demurrage period from nine days to 15 days for local cargo and at least 40 days from the current 28 days for transit goods in order to reduce our expenses,” they said in a statement.
The extensions would cushion their businesses against the increasing demurrages due to reduced working hours and lean staff due to the pandemic.
“In the past one month, different agencies have taken measures to comply with the Ministry of Health recommendations to control the spread of Covid-19, however this has slowed movement of goods from the port of Mombasa to different countries resulting in high demurrages,” reads part of the circular signed by importers and clearing agents.
Although their requests are yet to be fulfilled, Principal Secretary in Kenya’s State Department Of Interior Karanja Kibicho has ordered that all imported vehicles, duly registered, be released without physical number plates to save importers from incurring more storage charges.
“Due to the possible risk involved and exposure to employees at different Container Freight Stations (CFSs), we propose immediate cease of provision of physical motor vehicles number plates and stickers after online registration. The Kenya Revenue Authority will be requested to authorise release of duly registered vehicles from CFSs pending issuance of number plates to help reduce demurrage cost but the vehicles will not be used until physical number plates are issued,” said Dr Kibicho.
The port of Mombasa receives an average of 9,500 vehicles per month for both the Kenyan and regional markets.