SEATINI-UG with support from the East Africa Trade and Investment HUB organised a stakeholder’s dialogue to address the challenges/ Non-Tariff Barriers faced by Ugandan clearing & forwarding agents that inhibit access to Mombasa port as well as determining possible solutions. The overall objective of the EAC Common Market Protocol (CMP) is to widen and deepen cooperation among the partner states in the economic and social fields through removal of restrictions on the movement of goods, persons, labour, services and capital and the rights of establishment and residence. However, the implementation of the Common Market Protocol faces challenges. The  2016 EAC Time Bound Program (TBP) on elimination of  NTBs in the region shows that while some NTBs have been resolved, many remain unresolved and new ones are imposed which results in  hindering free movement of goods in the region.

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Mr Joseph Bukenya, Program Assistant Trade & Investment charing the meeting.

The Ministry of East African Community affairs has a mandate to boost trade in the EAC. This can be fully achieved by ensuring smooth trade among all partner states. The council has provided for an arrangement for airing out issues. All countries can engage on a common table under the single customs in order to address any obstacles. This platform will enable the removal of NTBs that may disrupt the free movement of goods and services.

Challenges addressed;

  • High port charges levied by the Kenya Ports Authority
  • Inefficiency of the shipping lines as well as clearing agents.
  • Lack of evidence based complaints deters the concerned authorities from investigating cases at hand.
  • Ugandan based firms can’t easily operate at Mombasa except entering into partnership with a Kenyan owned firm.
  • Shipping Lines do not allow containers to be released from port to Ugandan clearing firms since they demand either bank guarantees or cash deposits whereas the Kenyan clearing firms have access to guaranteeing by Cheque deposits or on the basis of agreements.
  • Arbitrary Auctioning of Ugandan goods and harassment of Ugandans at the Port of Mombasa.
  • Difficulty in obtaining Port and Simba System.
  • High truck charges for Ugandan vehicles $200 compared to the $50 paid by Kenyan trucks.
  • Time wastage at weigh bridge stations.

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Stakeholders sharing challenges faced during transportation & clearing of goods in the EAC region.

Recommendations;

  • It should be noted that Uganda being a landlocked country, it entirely depends on the ports of Mombasa & Dar es Salaam to clear its cargo. However the former is more cost effective than the latter in the form of distance covered and transport charges. But on considering other factors, the port of Dar es Salaam is cheaper due to its charges being based on the percentage of CIF while Mombasa charges are fixed. In this sense, a clearing agent would advise a client to opt for whichever is cost effective.
  • Cargo transport on Lake Victoria should be revamped as this could bring down the cost of transportation from the both ports to port bell in Luzira.  
  • Kenya Ports Authority should avail a clear procedure for waiver applications. This will help in reducing charges & penalties as a result of delays at the port.
  • The Ugandan government should advocate to ensure that truck fees are reduced.
  • The Ministry of Trade established a mobile platform which helps clearing agents and truck drivers to address issues of Non-Tariff Barriers. This is through *201# which addresses issues of weigh bridges, Standards inspect, Customs, Immigration, Police road blocks, EAC Affairs, Business reg & License, Plant and Animal Inspection.