KPA now plans to auction uncollected containers at port


Containers at Mombasa port.

Efforts to decongest the Port of Mombasa have suffered a big blow, after owners of containers causing a backlog failed to take advantage of the storage fee waiver by the port authority, saying a lot more needs to be done.

By Thursday, less than 200 out of the more than 3,000 containers had been removed following the amnesty for accrued storage charges issued by the Kenya Ports Authority.

Speaking on telephone with the Nation, KPA’s chief pilot William Ruto, said the authority will resort to auctioning the containers to remove the backlog which has slowed down operations at the port.

“We did not receive many requests for the waiver. We intend to auction containers that have been lying at the port for more than 100 days to ease congestion,” said Mr Ruto.

The blanket amnesty was issued on January 25 to February 1, as part of the Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) undertaken by the ministry of Transport to streamline port operations.

The waiver, according to KPA, failed to move container owners into action as it did not consider other penalties they had attracted, such as those imposed by the Kenya Revenue Authority and by shipping companies for delayed return of containers.

Unlike KPA, whose main source of revenue is not penalties on storage of containers, KRA charges customs warehouse fees for containers that have spent more than 21 days at the port from the day they were off-loaded from the ship.

These charges add to the national revenue collected by the revenue authority and as such, issuing a blanket waiver would spell a loss of income.

“The outcome shows that there are other underlying factors that account for why importers have not collected their containers from the port.

There is a need for KPA to work with KRA to reach a solution on how best to remove the containers from the port,” says Gilbert Langat, CEO of the Kenya Shippers Council.