Traders from the Democratic Republic of Congo who use the port of Mombasa say they are considering shifting to Dar es Salaam. They are citing frustrations by brokers posing as officials of the state freight firm Office Congolaise de Gestion du Fret Maritime (Ogefrem), who demand taxes that are not remitted.
Importers say that the brokers posing as revenue officers from Kinshasa collect duty on behalf of the country but when the goods reach their destination in the DRC, they are charged duty again. They claim that the taxes collected in Mombasa are not remitted to the taxman.
Businessman Kambale Mukokoma blamed the cartel for the extra cost of doing business.
“A group of people posing as representatives of Ogefrem are frustrating Congolese businessmen, that is why some of the traders have opted to use Dar es Salam port where there are no such brokers,” he said.
“The Congolese have no problem with the government agencies at the port but with brokers who want to extort money from us,” Mr Mukokoma added.
The brokers are alleged to be colluding with some staff at the port to carry out their activities, but the Kenya Revenue Authority says it is not aware of their existence.
“The traders should have lodged an official complaint with us, so that we can arrest them,” KRA Deputy Commissioner for the Southern Region Nicholas Kinoti told The EastAfrican on telephone.
Mr Mukokoma says that Tanzania has eliminated similar brokers from the tax collection chain.
“The Tanzanian government collects only what is theirs at the port so the cargo is properly charged when it enters DRC. But what we are experiencing at the Mombasa port at the hands of the brokers is killing our business,” he said.
Jomvu Member of Parliament Badi Twalib promised to raise the matter with the government to prevent activity that can scare away investors.
DRC, is the third biggest user of Mombasa port, importing refined petroleum, poultry products, machinery and packed medicaments.