quarter of the cargo imported through the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) risks being auctioned having surpassed the mandatory 21 clearing days, Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Nairobi status report indicate.
The weekly data covering the period between 9-15th of July shows that 260 of 20ft containers and 388 of 40ft containers. A total of 1036 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) had stayed for over 21 days. The yard had a population of 4676 TEUs by 16th of this month.
The average cargo dwell time at the ICD has been higher than the four free storage period, with over 47 percent of the total cargo volume at the ICD being unable to be cleared within this period.
About 53 percent of the cargo at the ICD in the week under review was aged between 0-5 days, 14 percent between 6-10 days and 9 percent for periods between 11-21 days. But there is a significant drop of the cargo that had overstayed for over 21 days from 1774 TEUs the week before.
After 21 days, goods that have not been entered or removed are moved to the Customs Warehouse. Thereafter, if they are not removed within 30 days then the Customs Warehouse keeper shall give a notice that unless those goods are removed within 30 days of the day of notice they shall be deemed abandoned and therefore eligible for auction.
The yard utilization, which in most cases is blamed for delay in evacuation of the cargo at ICD is very low. The yard utilization at the ICD recorded 4676 TEUs against an installed capacity of 14,497 TEUS.
Importers have been slow in evacuating cargo from the yard even in the period prior to ICD. Delays in cargo clearance has also shifted on port users who are accused of delaying in lodging cargo clearing documents into the systems.
Transporter, cargo owners and clearing agents in May this year pushed for a free cargo storage period extended from the current four days to 10 days, a move they said would ease the rush to pick containers before the curfew time, which has led to crowding at the Port of Mombasa and the ICD.
Importers incur charges of between $30 (Sh 3,154) and $90 (Sh9,463) per day for cargo that has stayed beyond the free storage, depending on the size of the container.
Containers released by KRA and not collected after 24 hours are charged $100 (Sh10,514) and $200 (Sh21,029) per day for 20ft and 40ft respectively.
“To support the reduction and crowding at the ICDN, sending of containers for 100 per cent verification and partial verification be stopped especially for known customers with history of compliance,” Gilbert Langat, the Shippers Council of East Africa (SCEA) Chief Executive said in an earlier interview.
KRA was also asked to extend the export acceptance period from the current four hours, which was said to be restrictive under the current operating circumstances.
However, the government, in May this year, granted domestic export containers a 15-day free storage period, up from nine days. Transit import containers at port and Inland Container Depot (ICD) Embakasi got 14 days free, also previously fixed at nine days.
Transit import cargo at ICD Naivasha was further offered a 30-day free storage period. Before this, the depot had no provision for free storage.
Further, transit export containers can now sit for free for 20 days, five more than the 15 that were allowed before.
Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (KIFWA) chairman Mr. Roy Mwanthi in an earlier interview said that some importers and clearing agents do not lodge documents in time despite the fact that there is a window provided for pre-arrival clearance.
When the Standard Gauge (SGR) started operations two years ago, and all the cargo bearing Nairobi addresses was ordered on SGR, there was immediate serious congestion. This was due to the fact that the systems were not properly integrated and there were a lot of other teething problems.
Since then, KPA has carried out a lot of infrastructural development around the ICD including gate clearance and the systems are now talking to each other.
Industry players have in the past called for punishing agencies that cause delays by surcharging them. The single window cargo clearing system platform has brought on board 37 cargo interveners and it is easy to identify who caused it.
The delays are common, according to some industry players, and before the SGR started operations, importers and clearing agents used to negotiate for a 30 days free storage period with Container Freight Stations (CFS) operators in Mombasa to allow them time to deal with industry inefficiencies in clearance of the goods, which is not possible at ICD.
When the CFSs were created in 2007, about 60 percent of the cargo through the port of Mombasa attracted storage charges. Since they were required to apply KPA tariff, they were supported to generate profits from storage charges of overstayed cargo.
They grew in number and had to be innovative to remain a float with tailor-made arrangements with their customers, largely serving as distributive points as well as providing warehousing services. Some CFSs allowed cargo to stay in their yards for up to 60 days.