The spokesperson of the Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita), Mr Issa Sekitto, has called for equal treatment and access to systems of clearance as Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) launched a new terminal at Mombasa port.
“Equal accessibility to the tax system will help speed up the clearing process for goods. Uganda’s tax system ESCUDA is open to the Kenyans unlike the SIMBA, clearing system which is only accessible to Kenyans,” he said.
“As long as the issues are not addressed, we shall only benefit from the increase in capacity at the port but will still face challenges trying to clear the goods,” Mr Sekitto said.
“Anything that concerns the capacitation of the port is welcome although in our opinion as Kacita, a dry port at the side of Uganda would have been the best option because a lot of cargo is abandoned at the Mombasa port,” he said.
The first phase of the second container terminal at the Kenya Ports Authority was opened by president Uhuru Kenyatta last week.
This comes at a time when the Mombasa Port has recorded a marginal growth between January and May compared to the same period last year.
A total of 11.3 million tonnes of cargo passed through the port against 11.2 million tonnes recorded in the corresponding period in 2015, reflecting an increase of 50.931 tonnes or 0.5 per cent.
With about 50 per cent of Mombasa Port traffic destined for the local market with the rest shared between Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, DR Congo, South Sudan and Somalia, the new container terminal is expected to improve trade and port efficiencies significantly.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Kenyatta said they had prioritised port development because of the importance of ports to the region.
“This facility is yet another milestone in the development of the maritime sector in our country and the region at large. It heralds a new era in the development of our ports and their capacities to perform their roles in facilitation of the region’s international trade,” he said
The new container terminal is capable of handling fourth generation vessels of 8,000 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units capacity.
Handling such big vessels allows the business community to benefit from economies of scale and reduces the cost of doing business.
The KPA board of directors chairman, Maj (Rtd) Marsden Madoka, said the development has come at an opportune time when the Port of Mombasa is registering upward trends in cargo volumes.
“These efforts among other ongoing projects, are geared towards increasing demand for cargo volume and make the port’s management more efficient with the objective of promoting trade and contributing to regional socio-economic development,” Mr Madoka said.
The project was funded by the Japanese government.