Businessmen from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Mombasa have raised concern on multiple taxation of imported goods at the Port of Mombasa. The importers say they are faced with loss of business due to the many charges by OGEFREM their equivalent of the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA).
Led by their representative Kambale Mukokoma, the Congolese businessmen stated they would soon be forced to ground their clearing and forwarding activities unless their concerns were addressed.
Mukokoma noted since the arrival of OGEFREM in Mombasa, Congolese cargo transiting through the Port of Mombasa have been subjected to many taxes before loading for final destination to the DRC. The importers say they were not consulted and were therefore not party to the decisions to pay extra taxes which they claim will add to the cost of doing business.
“Today we regret once again that OGEFREM has blocked the release of our containers because we have categorically refused to pay twice for the same document called FERI while shippers have paid approximately Ksh30,300 for it from the port of origin,” he said.
He added that all these were being done ostensibly to help in the monitoring of Congo-bound cargo.
He said importers have to pay Ksh5,050 annual registration fee for each economic operator using the port of Mombasa, 1.8% of the amount of ocean freight of all cargo to DRC, Ksh25,250 per container for the so-called electronic form commonly called FERI and Ksh20,020 for certificate of destination and 5 percent of customs fees are collected by OGEFREM once the goods arrive at their destination.
“All these charges are subjected to the Congo cargo passing through the port of Mombasa saying that the purpose is to monitor goods destined for Congo,” said Mukokoma during a press conference.
He disclosed that OGEFREM operations in neighbouring Tanzania were suspended at the port of Dar es Salaam following outcry by the Congolese business community. Mukokoma said they are forced to pay more to clear their cargo as a result of the long delays associated with the winding processes.
The cumbersome processes and taxation Congolese importers have to go through to clear their transit cargo are turning the port of Mombasa into an unattractive destination for doing business.
He said as a result of the inordinate delays, importers from Congo pay more for ship demurrage charges and the trucks hired to evacuate goods from the port to the eastern parts of the DRC.
Jomvu Member of Parliament Badi Twalib has joined the Congolese clearing and forwarding agents in their protests saying the move by OGEFREM would disrupt business and threaten commerce in Mombasa.
Twalib called for a quick resolution of the problems raised by the Congolese businessmen saying issues of multiple taxation would increase demurrage charges and consequently the cost of doing business.
The MP who received a petition from the Congolese promised to raise up the matter with the Parliamentary Committee on Transport in a bid to unlock the stalemate that threatens to cripple business and affect livelihoods in Mombasa.
Twalib warned that the cumbersome processes and taxation Congolese importers have to go through at the Mombasa port before clearing their transit cargo are turning the port into an unattractive destination for doing business.