Cargo verification process at the Mombasa port is about to change course following reform to kick out agencies that have been a pain in the arse for local importers, a majority being Small to Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs). Only verification and conformity certification bodies will remain at the port, the Nairobi Inland Container Depot, airports and border points.
In the 2019/2010 Budget statement, Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich said that the government will streamline the process of Pre-Verification of Conformity (PVOC) so that businesses stop incurring unnecessary charges and other costs while clearing their goods at the point of entry.
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has been mandated to enforce an Executive order issued through a circular signed by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. As per the circulation, only nine agencies will be allowed to operate within the port, and the agencies have been classified into five categories. The remaining nineteen agency will be forced to pack their belongings a move that has led into a silent protest and a war among government officials over the matter.
Among the frontier operators in the categories that the agencies have been placed under include; Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) under the front line port operators category.
Category one made up of sea vessel boarding parties includes; Port Health, Immigration, customs and Port Facility Security Office, with their representatives as the only officials allowed to board a docked vessel.
Intelligence-led operators will be in Category three. They include the National Intelligence Service (NIS), Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (Kephis). Category four and five will contain all other agencies which have been banned from operating within the port unless with authorisation of lead agencies like KRA, KPA and Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and all clearing agents respectively.
“All government agencies are expected to adhere to the agreed operational guidelines and timelines set for cargo processing at the port of entry,” said Kinyua.
KEBS will be the leading agency in coordinating the inspection of goods at the country of origin and the issuance of enriched Certificate of Conformity (CoCs) which will be used as of June 30 this year. Once the cargo is issued with the certificate at the country of origin, it will not be subjected to another inspection on arrival as it has been previously.
Among those authorities rooted out are Kenya Radiation Protection Board (KRPB), Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), National Environment Management Authority, Anti-Counterfeit Agency, Pest Control Products Board and the Poisons and Pharmacy Control Board of Kenya.