Home NEWS Local News Reprieve for Nairobi Business Community as government orders release of withheld goods

Reprieve for Nairobi Business Community as government orders release of withheld goods

Small-scale traders and importers can now breathe a sigh of relief after the Government ordered the release of their goods held at the Port of Mombasa over standard verification within two weeks

In a raft of interventions announced by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on Thursday after meeting small-scale traders, the goods will be released upon confirmation that they meet the required standards.

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The government also reversed the decision on increment of import duty from Sh2.5 million to Sh3 million on each container.

This is after the traders complained that the extra Sh500,000 was not justified and that they were not involved.

The Deputy President also said the traders will be issued with a single certificate of conformity and compliance from the Anti-Counterfeit Authority and Kenya Bureau of Standards instead of double inspection of goods by the two State agencies.

The Deputy President announced the interventions after chairing a high-level meeting between the traders, KRA and heads of State regulatory bodies, which the business people accused of seizing their containers at the Mombasa Port.

The meeting was held at his Official Residence in Karen Nairobi and was attended by over 300 traders and importers drawn from Nairobi Business Community group.

DP Gachagua convened the meeting after the traders claimed that their businesses were going down over alleged introduction of new import duty by KRA and harassment by police and officers from the Anti-Counterfeit agency.

They also complained about unfair competition from foreigners.

In the resolutions read by the Deputy President, it was agreed that, henceforth, Anti-counterfeit body will be involving traders in verification and inspection of their goods and that KRA will not introduce levies or import duty on goods without public participation with the stakeholders.

“KRA will negotiate with the Kenya Ports Authority and shipping lines on release of the withheld goods. On the withheld containers, the importers will pay the initial agreed duty and KRA to expedite clearance of the containers for release to the traders by next week,” said DP Gachagua.

Mr Gachagua said he called for the meeting on instructions of President William Ruto.

Additionally, the Deputy President said Kenya Bureau of Standards and Anti-counterfeit Authority will harmonise their work in clearing import goods to expedite the certification process and issuance of  certificate of compliance and conformity.

The parties (importers, traders and officers drawn from relevant state agencies) formed a multi-agency team that will be meeting monthly to address issues affecting small-scale businesses in the county.

The first meeting is scheduled for April 10, 2024 to check on implementation of the resolutions.

 

“I assure you that you are our partners in the economic transformation of this country; you are stakeholders in this journey. We will work hand in hand and help each other. We cannot abandon you. We will create a framework to continue engaging. I will also visit the traders at their places of work to get first hand information. If there are issues, talk to us,” said Mr Gachagua.

He also directed the Anti-Counterfeit Authority to act on its officers accused of harassing business persons during inspection in disguise of search for contraband goods.

Police officers, who have stayed in one working station for more than three years, are being transferred after the traders said they were harassing and frustrating their businesses.

The Deputy further said that an amendment bill to the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015, which he had sponsored when he was MP for Mathira, will be revived to protect local businesses from unfair competition by foreigners.

“The amendment bill started in 2018 but was killed by the previous administration. It will be revived and pushed as a government bill. We cannot allow foreigners to come to Kenya posing as manufacturers of goods while they are assemblers. We must do everything possible to protect our entrepreneurs,” said Mr Gachagua.

He also asked the business community to give their input in the Trade Development Bill so that it can be enhanced to protect enterprises.

And as the traders complained of harassment by officers from the Kenya Copyright Board, the Deputy President said the leadership of the agency will be called to brief the team on its involvement in imported goods.

The traders, who mostly deal in electronics, second hand clothes, motorcycle spare parts, textiles, stationery, Computer and ICT accessories, clothing, operate from Nyamakima, Kamukunji, Gikomba, Muthurwa, Luthuli Avenue, CBD and River Road, welcomed the government intervention.

“We are the hustlers that brought this government to power and we cannot go to protests because the President and his Deputy are reachable, approachable and they listen. We believe you won’t let us down. You are our friend and we can’t abandon you,” said Mr David Njoroge, chairman of Nyamakima traders.

The meeting came one week after the Deputy President intervened in the avocado subsector and solved a brewing dispute in the exportation of the fruit.

Nairobi Deputy Governor Njoroge Muchiri, Starehe MP Amos Mwago, Principal Secretaries Alfred K’Ombudo (State department for Trade) and Susan Mangeni (State department for MSMEs), KRA Commissioner-General Humphrey Wantanga, KRA Board chairman Anthony Mwaura, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Douglas Kanja attended the meeting.

The Chairperson anticounterfeit authority Josphat Kabebea, chairperson of the National Standards Council Anthony Muriuki Munyiri, Executive Director/CEO of the Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA) Dr. Robi Mbugua Njoroge, Managing Director Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) Esther Ngari, CEO Veterinary Medicines Directorate Jane Njiru, Dr Allan Wambua from Pharmacy and Poisons Board and Henry Mwenda CEO Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA) were also present.

Margaret Kalekye/DPCS
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