Kenya launches container freight station to ease movements of goods

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NAIROBI, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday launched a container freight station to ease the movement of goods and services.

Kenyatta said the shed, also known as Boma line, a joint initiative between Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has been set up as part of government efforts to facilitate and enhance ease of doing business.

He said the facility will also reduce the cost of doing business for small traders, noting that the launch of the facility was the beginning of a long journey towards ensuring that all traders have an equal opportunity to run their businesses in the country.

"We are also talking about the ease of doing business by our small traders. They are our biggest employers and we need to ensure that they are treated fairly, and they are facilitated just like all others are," he said during the launch in Nairobi.

Kenyatta said that the small traders will now not pay the 110,000 shillings (about 1,000 U.S. dollars) as container deposits which will subsequently reduce the cost of doing business.

Kenyatta directed the Kenya Bureau of Standards to levy all businesses a uniform charge on imported goods irrespective of their size.

"We will not allow government officials to engage in malpractice. Ours is to facilitate those who are doing business. That is our goal and our plan," he warned.

Ukur Yatani, cabinet secretary, National Treasury said the facility will serve traders in Nairobi and its environs while facilitating easy access to their goods.

Yatani said that small traders will not be required to travel to the Inland Container Depot (ICDN) on the outskirts of Nairobi to collect their goods.

"Establishment of the 'Boma line' is part of initiatives to bring services closer to taxpayers and facilitate them to conduct their business effectively and efficiently," said Yatani.

He said the verification by Customs officers and other government agencies will be done on these specific single goods as opposed to the typical verification of a whole container.

"This, therefore, means that the cargo verification process will be simplified and there will be a great improvement on the verification turnaround time," said Yatani.

He said traders with goods of Customs value of 10,000 dollars or less will now be allowed to make an import declaration on a simplified mobile app or a direct assessment entry, while those with goods of Customs value above 10,000 dollars will clear through a registered clearing agent in the Customs system.

Githii Mburu, KRA commissioner-general said plans were underway to progressively increase additional warehouses as volume of trade increases and also trains the traders on how to clear cargo without the assistance of clearing agents.

"Adoption of technology in our key operations as a revenue authority has made it easier for taxpayers to access our services hence elimination of intervention from third parties. This is part of our initiative of bringing services closer to the people. We want them to know that we are here to serve them better," said Mburu

The Transit Shed is expected to serve about 7, 500 small traders in Nairobi and its environs and will accommodate approximately 100-40 foot containers per month raking in approximate revenue of 1 million dollars.

Mburu said the number of containers being cleared at the facility is later expected to increase to about300 containers per month during the post Covid period.

This, he said, will enable the country to collect revenue of about 9.2 million dollars. The shed is expected to operate on a 24 hours basis during the post-COVID-19 period. Enditem

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