Government releases goods to Nyamakima traders after Gachagua's intervention

Rigathi Gachagua

The intervention followed a meeting between 300 traders and the government chaired by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on Thursday. The meeting was held at the Deputy President's Official Residence in Karen.

Photo credit: DPCS

Nairobi's Nyamakima traders are breathing a sigh of relief after the national government ordered the release of goods at Mombasa port, reversing an earlier decision to increase import duty from Sh2.5 million to Sh3 million per container.

The intervention followed a meeting between 300 traders and the government chaired by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

The meeting was held last Thursday at the Deputy President's Official Residence in Karen.

Mr Gachagua said the release of the goods would be subject to the required standards.

"(The) Kenya Revenue Authority will negotiate with the Kenya Ports Authority and shipping lines on release of the withheld goods. On the withheld containers, the importers will pay the initially agreed duty and KRA to expedite clearance of the containers for release to the traders by next week," said Mr Gachagua.

The Deputy President also said that traders will be issued with a single certificate of conformity and compliance from the Anti-Counterfeit Authority and the Kenya Bureau of Standards instead of double-checking the goods by the two government agencies.
He also promised to work closely with traders to address the challenges they face.

"I assure you that you are our partners in the economic transformation of this country; you are stakeholders in this journey. We will work hand in hand and help each other. We cannot abandon you. We will create a framework to continue engaging. I will also visit the traders at their places of work to get first-hand information. If there are issues talk to us," he added.

Mr Gachagua also promised that the government would introduce a Bill to amend the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015 to protect them from unfair competition from foreign companies.

Traders expressed their unhappiness

The meetings come after Nyamakima traders expressed their unhappiness with what they describe as punitive taxes by the KRA and harassment by the Anti-Counterfeit Authority, as well as brutal district askaris and a lack of trading space.

Traders have also complained about the influx of foreigners from Pakistan and China, who they say have taken over the retail and wholesale ends of the supply chain in the country.

During a prayer meeting held in Kamkunji on March 16, the traders said they were taking stock of the Kenya Kwanza Coalition's promises and their implementation before making a decision.

"We should not continue to have these foreigners coming into the business space as manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and consumers... they come enjoying export rebates from their countries and can afford to exercise cost-to-cost pricing in the retail," said Anne Nyokabi, the Secretary of the Importers and Small Traders Association.

The meeting was attended by politicians from the Kenya Kwanza and Azimio One Kenya coalitions.

Orange Democratic Movement deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya said the traders lack a caring government that should look after their needs, while Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro defended the government, insisting it is keen to fulfil the promises it made to the traders.