Cargo worth millions of shillings went under the hammer on Wednesday at the Mombasa port after importers failed to pay duty to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
KRA deputy commissioner in charge of Southern Region Nicholas Kinoti said the assorted goods were auctioned after the importers failed to collect their cargo due to non-payment of duty.
He said the taxman had given the importers a 30-day notice for them to pay the required duty but failed to do so.
“It is important for importers to pay duty when their goods arrive at the Port of Mombasa so that they can collect their cargo,” he said.
“Upon failure by the importers to collect their cargo, KRA is mandated to auction the goods to generate revenue,” he added.
Speaking at the customs warehouse at the port during the auction, he called on Kenyans to participate in the sale.
The cargo included vehicles, household items, electrical appliances, travelling bags and washing machines. “The auctioning of uncollected cargo is part of efforts by KRA to decongest the Port of Mombasa. When the goods are sold, it creates room for incoming cargo,” he said.
Mr Kinoti added that another auction would take place on January 17 in which many vehicles and other assorted goods would be sold. The official said some cargo could not be auctioned as it was still being held for verification or awaiting valuation by the concerned agencies.
Some goods, which were deemed expensive by buyers, he added, were awaiting a devaluation approval from the authorities ahead of the second auction.
“An auctioneer has been brought from Nairobi in a bid to ensure transparency in the auctioning of goods. We want to ensure that the process is fair to all bidders,” he said, adding that this year’s turnout of bidders had improved as many potential buyers had attended the auctioning. In the previous auction, the KRA sold goods worth Sh100 million, according to the official.
A Mombasa businessman, Mr Bipin Narandas, said this year’s auction was transparent as the bidders were given an opportunity to openly bid for the goods they were looking for.
“In the previous auctions, there used to be numerous complaints of favouritism, but this time around, the exercise was conducted fairly,” he said.
However, the businessman called on the Kenya Bureau of Standards to fast track verification of the authenticity of cargo to enable the owners to collect it on time.
“The Kenya Bureau of Standards should speed up the verification of food and medicine to prevent them from going bad,” he said.
Mr Narandas said importers of food and medicine end up incurring huge losses after the commodities go to waste due to verification delays.