Big win for 7,500 small scale importers as Nairobi cargo clearance centre opens

Thousands of traders from Nyamakima and Gikomba markets are enjoying fast customs clearance of their imports following the opening of a cargo deconsolidation centre in Nairobi railways.

This follows the gazettement of the Kenya Railways Corporation (Boma Line) transit shed where over 7,500 small scale traders in Nairobi and its environs can collect cargo arriving via the Standard Gauge Railway from Mombasa.

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All cargo consolidated at the countries of export, is, upon landing in Kenya being deconsolidated at the Nairobi shed. At the center, the consolidated cargo is offloaded from containers and stored according to its nature for ease of identification and tracking. The center is currently serving about 400 traders per day.

Speaking during an inspection visit of the National Cargo Deconsolidation Centre (NCDC) on Wednesday evening, President Uhuru Kenyatta, accompanied by KRA Commissioner General Mburu Githii, said the Government is committed to creating a conducive environment for small-scale traders to prosper. The President said he desires to see micro, small and medium enterprises growing and creating employment for the many unemployed Kenyan youths. 

“During my visit on 10th November 2020, you requested me to have the cost of local inspection reduced from 5 per cent of customs value to 0.6 per cent. This was to reduce the cost of importation and promote the growth of your businesses,” President Kenyatta said.

The center, which is popularly known as ‘Boma line’ is part of the Government plan to bring services closer to the taxpayers while facilitating and enhancing the ease of doing business in Kenya. 

The verification of cargo by customs officers as well as other Government agencies is being done on specific goods as opposed to the usual authentication of an entire container.

Boma line, which is expected run round-the-clock post Covid, will help cut the cost of doing business for small scale traders as importers will now not be required to pay US$1,000 as container deposits. Further, for small scale importers in other parts of Kenya, their goods will be deconsolidated at other centers, said KRA.

Importers of goods destined to upcountry markets such as Nanyuki and Sagana will no longer pay hefty transport costs to ferry cargo from ICDN as Boma line will be easily accessible. Cargo for these SMEs will be transported from Kilindini Port to ICDN, Embakasi, and later transshipped to the transit shed using the metre gauge railway.

Importers of goods of customs value of less than US$10,000 will now be allowed to make an import declaration on a mobile app or make a direct assessment entry, while those with goods of customs value above US$10,000 will clear through a registered clearing agent.

Boma line is expected to process about 100 40-foot containers per month earning the country approximately Sh110 million in revenue. The taxman projects to handle 300 containers per month post Covid, netting the country Sh1 billion in taxes.

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