Kenya: New charter outlines key port reforms

A team spearheading a charter signed in 2014 to enhance cargo clearance at the Port of Mombasa has submitted its reviewed report to the government.

The Mombasa Port Corridor Charter report was presented during last week’s validation workshop in Mombasa, an event attended by Maritime Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu.

The Charter Steering Committee chairperson Gilbert Langat said for the last four years since the first charter was signed, government agencies and private sector players have supported efforts to make the port more efficient.

“We came up with the charter after concerns over poor services at the port including issue of operations and policy. It is something that was a concern for all of us and that is why we came up with the charter,” said Mr Langat.

“We are focusing on global best practice, structured stakeholders’ engagement reporting and information sharing at the port. We also need to focus on how to support these initiatives that we have done in terms of allocating resources.”

About 25 organisations drawn from the government, private sector, civil society and other interest groups are signatories to the charter signed in the presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta. They include KRA, the Kenya Maritime Authority, the Kenya Ports Authority, the Kenya National Police Service, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and the Shippers Council of East Africa.

Mr Langat, who is also the chief executive officer of the East Africa Shippers Council, said the main purpose of the charter is to unlock the port’s potential while “advancing collaboration and mutual respect by all players”.

“When we first signed this charter in 2014, we committed ourselves to do things in our own different way and now we must remain clear on where we are heading to. What we are looking for ultimately is efficiency, reduction of costs and time that we use in terms of supply chain,” he said.

The workshop was also attended by Trade Mark East Africa’s chief operating officer David Stanton, the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) Director General Peter Mundinia.

Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo and The Kenya Maritime Authority(KMA) director General George Macgoye sent their speeches.

Mr Macgoye called for all players in the sector to meet their obligations and make the charter effective and result oriented.

“Some challenges have been in late submission of performance reports, failure to allocate resources towards realisation of charter related projects and activities,” he said.

“We have also slow intervention in systems, infrastructure and procedures which are affecting realisation of certain charter targets. These are areas which we must resolve to address realization of charter objectives.”

The Trade PS said the objective of the charter signed in 2014 was to make trade facilitation along the corridor more efficient, effective, reliable and global ly competitive.

“The MPCC signatories committed to use the charter as a tool to unlock inherent inefficiencies in the flow of traffic along the northern corridor by monitoring performance on selected key indicators. In order to keep the 2014 relevant to changing environment, a review was necessary,” said Mr Kiptoo.

Ms Karigithu told the validation workshop that is the duty of the government to support initiatives by sector players in realising the government’s Big Four development agenda.

“The vision of the revised charter is to have efficient, reliable and global competitive ports and corridor. The mission is to streamline and accelerate Mombasa port’s stakeholders’ efforts to realise the vision of the new chapter we expect to open and deliver,” Ms Karigithu said.

The PS said the government expects from the implementation of the revised chapter, efficient cargo clearance, global competitive and reliable logistic services, quality primary transport infrastructure, effective regulatory and policy environment as well as enhanced automation and innovation of cargo clearance process services.

“I will support the implementation of the charter by making sure that you get the relevant legislative instruments that you may propose in order to support the implementation of the charter,” she said.

She called on importers to adhere to the right procedure during the importation and clearing of cargo at the port so that “the vision of a better and fast cargo clearance port is achieved”.

Ms Karigithu said false declaration by some importers has led to increased sanctions on cargo clearance by the KRA. The sanctions, she added, would only be lifted if importers honestly declare their cargo.

Unscrupulous traders, she said had prompted the Kenya Revenue Authority to turn into a revenue protection agency when its mandate is revenue collection.

“Sometimes someone says they have imported mattresses, but on the way the cargo changes into high-end vehicles. That is a problem which we all need to address,” the PS added.

The KPA has recorded an overall improvement in its key year on year performance indicators as well as an increase in cargo handled in June and six months into the year.

In June the port handled throughput of 2,720,000-deadweight tonnage (DWT) representing a 0.6 per cent increase compared to the same month last year, a report released last week showed.

The growth is attributable to an increase in dry bulk and containerized cargo, which recorded an increase of 6.8 percent and 10.6 percent respectively.

January to June saw the port register a 2.4 percent growth in throughput compared to the same period last year. Imports took a lion’s share of the throughput at 83.6 percent, while exports registered 12.5 percent. Transshipment cargo recorded 3.6 percent of the total traffic.

The strong freight figures were equally demonstrated by the growth of container traffic.

In June, the port registered 106,153 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEU’s) compared to 99,727 TEU’s handled last year and posting an increase of 6.9 percent. The cumulative container traffic from January to June saw an increase of 5.3 percent with the port handling 614,625 TEUs compared to 583,661 TEUs during a similar period last year.