19th April 2024
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Kenya court halts $350 levy on South Sudan-bound cargo

Author: Chany Ninrew | Published: Thursday, April 4, 2024

Offloading of Cargo in one of the Vessels that docked at Mombasa Port, Kenya on March 06, 2024. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

The Kenyan High Court reportedly imposed a temporary suspension on the implementation of a 350 US-dollar levy that was being charged per container for all goods destined for South Sudan.

This comes after Kenyan clearing agents challenged the $350 charge per container to be paid by South Sudan importers in court.

According to the East African newspaper, Justice Gregory Mutai certified the case as urgent and issued the suspension order – pending hearing of the lawsuit by the Kenyan clearing agents on April 9, 2024.

In a petition filed at the High Court in Mombasa, the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) sought a declaration that the levy to all imports headed to South Sudan is unconstitutional.

Kifwa stated that the Mombasa Monitoring Station-National Revenue Authority of South Sudan issued a directive that the $350 fee be paid to Ugandan private company Invesco Uganda Limited, as payment for a cargo tracking system.

The decision triggered standoff as more than 400 containers destined for South Sudan were grounded at Port Mombasa after traders refused to pay the 350 US-dollar levy.

In its petition, Kifwa said it is licensed by the Commissioner of Customs Kenya to undertake cargo clearance and collection of taxes and levies due to the government.

“As clearing agents, we operate under Kenyan laws and the East Africa Community Customs Management Act and the regulations made thereunder,” the petition states.

The petition seeks an order issued to quash the directive and prohibit the Mombasa Monitoring Station-National Revenue Authority of South Sudan from enforcing the directive.

They argue that the South Sudan ECTN is inconsequential in terms of cargo tracking except for collecting the money and directing the funds to a private account in Uganda.

– Nimule backlog –

A South Sudanese clearing agent said on Tuesday that the imposition Electronic Cargo Tracking Note at Nimule in Eastern Equatoria has slowed down the clearance of goods and created a built-up of trucks at the border point.

Daniel Deng, a clearance agent based in Nimule said many of the users are not familiar with the system, making it difficult for them to get certificates as fast as they can.

The Electronic Cargo Tracking Note is a mandatory document initiating by the South Sudan government for shipping goods to several African countries.

The tracking note contains detailed information about the shipment, enabling the clearance of the cargo by the authorities with an ECTN number for easy tracking.

The certificate is key in watching over and managing how cargo is moved as it gives the authorities quick and clear details about what the cargo is, how much it’s worth, and where it’s going.

This helps in stopping illegal activities like fraud, under-reporting the value of goods, and smuggling.

 

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