Museveni wants URA to open a customs office at Mombasa to ease cargo clearing

Presidents Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, and Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi for the 14th summit on the Northern Corridor Integration Projects. Credit: Uganda Business News

Regional leaders under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects initiative on Wednesday directed their respective customs authorities to assist the Kenya Ports Authority “ensure efficient and seamless clearance and movement of cargo” at Mombasa port.

KPA oversees all sea ports in Kenya, including Mombasa port, which is the main gateway for shipments into and from Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.

The NCIP is an offshoot of the regional integration bloc, the East African Community, comprising Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Sudan. Leaders of the three countries and a representative from South Sudan met in Nairobi on Tuesday after almost two years to review the progress made on infrastructure projects.

At the summit held at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, President Museveni directed the Ugandan Revenue Authority to open a customs station at Mombasa port to work “hard and for long hours”, like their Kenyan counterparts, to ensure that there is no backlog of cargo destined to Uganda.

Over 90% of Ugandan-bound cargo goes through the Mombasa port.

According to KPA, the port recorded a significant increase in its total cargo throughput with a growth of 10.9% from 27.3m tonnes in 2016 to 30.3m tonnes in 2017.

Container traffic registered an impressive performance with an increase of 98,586 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) or 9% from 1m TEUs handled in 2016 to 1.2 million TEUs in 2017.

Last year Kenya commissioned the first phase of a second $300m container terminal that provides an additional cargo-handling capacity of 550,000 TEUs per year. The second phase of construction, to add an additional 450,000 TEUs, is due for completion later this year.

President Museveni also directed URA to commence 24-hour operations at the Malaba border point to effectively clear cargo in-bound for Uganda.

However, the president issued a similar order in 2008 saying there was urgent need to ensure quick clearance of cargo at the border customs post to reduce revenue losses.

Uganda Revenue Authority has since put in place several countermeasures, including upgrading from an electronic IT system to a web based platform that clears goods in advance before arrival at the entry points.

The NCIP heads of state summit also discussed progress on the multibillion dollar standard gauge railway (SGR), and lauded Kenya for recently commissioning the Mombasa — Nairobi section for both passengers and cargo.

Kenya is now undertaking the 120km line from Nairobi to Naivasha to be followed by the 266km line from Naivasha to Kisumu.