Njiraini denies plan to shut port firms

Wednesday February 24 2016

A cargo ship at the Mombasa port. Kenya Revenue Authority and Kenya Ports Authority have doubled their efforts to to rid the Mombasa port of contraband goods. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A cargo ship at the Mombasa port. Kenya Revenue Authority and Kenya Ports Authority have doubled their efforts to to rid the Mombasa port of contraband goods. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GITONGA MARETE
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The Kenya Revenue Authority on Tuesday assured importers that there were no plans to shut Container Freight Stations in Mombasa.

It would only scrutinise them to stop tax evasion and dumping of transit goods, said commissioner-general John Njiraini.

This comes after two freight stations owned by Mombasa governor Hassan Joho’s family were shut last month accused of dealing with contraband goods and evading tax.

The stations are an extension of the port where imported goods are taken there directly from ships, planes and trucks. They are then inspected and processed for taxation and released to importers.

“In response to recent misleading reports, KRA wishes to clarify that there are no imminent intentions to close down freight stations on account of ongoing investigations,” Mr Njiraini said in a statement.

He added: “The correct position is that there are investigations on the handling of transit cargo both at the port and at the freight stations.”

The revenue authority said a meeting will soon be held between station owners and the authority to seek ways of finding common ground on key issues.

He said the authority appreciated the role the stations play in helping decongest the port and that it remained committed to streamline their work.

Mr Njiraini added that there were ongoing investigations targeting some stations over  tax evasion.

Freight stations association of Kenya executive officer Daniel Nzeki welcomed the announcement. “I would not wish to pre-empt the talks but we look forward to the deliberations so that we clear the air on various issues. The stations generate tax worth between Sh18 billion and Sh21 billion each month. Cargo importation at peak periods contributes revenue in excess of Sh100 billion.”

The stations were established in December 2007 to help ease cargo congestion at the port but some firms have been abetting corruption and dealing in contraband goods.

The closure of Autoport and Port Side stations, triggered anxiety and speculation that dozens of others faced closure, raising fears over imminent job losses.

There are 24 stations in Mombasa, employing more than 6,000 people.

When the Kenya Revenue Authority shut Autoport and Port Side freight stations, it instructed its officers to carry out 100 per cent verification of all cargo.

Clearing and forwarding agents were appalled.

The 100 per cent verification requires that a container is opened and all cargo in it removed to ensure that what is declared in the manifet is actually what is in the container.

While it takes up to a day to verify one container, the charges  are Sh8,400 and Sh9,450 for the 20 and 40-foot containers respectively.