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KIFWA releases freights clearing minimum charges guidelines

Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (KIFWA) has released guidelines on minimum fees charged by clearing and forwarding agents aimed at streamlining and professionalising the industry.

The industry has been disorganised for many years leading to infiltration by quacks and cases of tax evasion where importers collude with unscrupulous clearing and forwarding agents.

KIFWA says the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will be able to predict the revenue collectable from the industry based on the minimum guidelines. The government will also see an enhanced collection from the industry.

The guidelines will be effective from December 1, 2023 to give Kenyans ample time to adjust and where there are existing contracts between agents and customers to be notified.

KIFWA Chairman Roy Mwanthi says all clearing agents must belong to an association before they are licensed by the Commissioner of Customs to carry out customs agencies, port clearance and logistic services.

“The workers must be fairly compensated for the services rendered. The cost of living has gone up, fuel has gone up in Kenya.

It has affected the operations of our work making the cost of offering our services very high,” said Mr Mwanthi in Mombasa after a meeting where the agents unanimously ratified the guidelines.

The Chairman noted that they have witnessed the emergence of unfair business practices in the industry resorting to undercutting giving importers the advantage of underpaying genuine agents.

“We have seen a lot of people taking advantage of the industry as a result our people have become paupers in the industry, while we are clearing goods worth millions of shillings in terms of containerised goods or clearing motor vehicles from 5m and above, clearing and forwarding agents are being paid as low as Sh2000,” he said.

As a result of the low payments, many agents cannot maintain their officers impeding the offering of efficient services based on current rates in the market.

“The minimum charges will guide the clearing and forwarding agents to enjoy the benefits of their work,” he said urging motor vehicle showroom operators to comply with the guidelines.

The Chairman decried that they have seen their members retiring after working for 30 years heading home empty-handed because of quacks who pose as middlemen between importers and clearing and forwarding agents.

“Quacks do not pay taxes, permits, licenses they just sit in coffee shops and make orders and at the end of the day they take home the lion’s share while we take peanuts,” he said.

On his part KIFWA Vice Chairman Mombasa Leonard Njiru said they have had numerous cases of importers in Rwanda, Congo, South Sudan and Uganda being swindled money by the quacks.

“KIFWA will also release the list of all agents that will be authorised to transact in business as a customs agency. The guidelines are geared to professionalise and streamline the clearing and forwarding business to weed out quacks masquerading as agents,” said Njiru.

He added that an agent who doesn’t follow the guidelines, the first offender will be penalised Sh100, 000, the second offender will pay Sh300, 000 thereafter will be expelled from the association risking losing their operating license.

By Sadik Hassan

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