Kenya, Tanzania under pressure to harmonise port operations

Monday February 02 2015

Kenya and Tanzania are under renewed pressure to harmonise their port procedures and charges to ease flow of shipment to landlocked states in East Africa.

A latest audit of operations at the Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports revealed challenges to traders from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda which affected the overall performance of trade in the region.

“The two ports could consider harmonising their port charges, grace period and penalties, in view of the implementation of the EAC single customs territory,” Burundi said in a new report to the bloc’s secretariat.

“The two countries should consider allowing clearing and forwarding agencies to go to work at Dar es Salaam and Mombasa ports.”

The two ports are the main gateways to the East African region and also service markets in South Sudan and the Great Lakes region, handling key items including fuel, consumer goods and other imports as well as exports of tea and coffee from the region.

“Dar es Salaam and Mombasa ports, should establish one terminal for all transit containers for EAC countries. For example, you will see at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi that there is a window for EAC citizens only,” said Burundi further in the update published by EAC secretary-general Richard Sezibera on Friday.


The latest claims by Burundi add to a list of concerns by landlocked members of the bloc who felt disadvantaged.

A long-running feud between Ugandan traders and Kenyan authorities over the auction of uncollected cargo at the Mombasa port has already been escalated to the EAC leadership amid claims of unfairness.

Uganda has accused Kenya of imposing a new non-tariff barrier by “selectively auctioning” Ugandan goods held at the port of Mombasa.

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In a recent status update to the EAC on trade with Kenya, Uganda also raised concern over increased impounding of suspected counterfeit goods meant for its market at the port.

“Lengthy, restrictive and unclear administrative procedures of licensing Uganda-owned container freight stations and warehouses in Kenya are non-tariff barriers (NTBs),” Uganda said in its audit report.

Teams from Uganda and Kenya in charge of eliminating NTBs are expected to deliberate and find a solution to the problem or have it referred to the bloc’s top decision organ, the Council of Ministers, for action.

Kenyan officials have been engaged in a long-running spat with Ugandan traders over uncollected cargo at the port.

The facility has in recent years experienced congestion, which the Kenya Ports Authority attributed to a lack of space following delays by importers and clearing agents to promptly collect containers.

Barely two weeks ago, the Uganda Revenue Authority cautioned traders against choking the Mombasa port with thousands of uncollected cargo containers ahead of an expected surge in trade volumes at the facility.

“Owners of the goods are requested to immediately clear the goods out of the port as delays in clearance will lead to accumulation of storage and customs warehouse charges,” said Richard Kamajugo, commissioner for customs, in a notice to traders.