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Transit Controls

loadcontainer.jpgTransit controls are generally implemented to ensure compliance with national Customs legislation and regulations. The Northern Corridor Transit Transport Coordination Authority plays a vital role in harmonising and simplifying procedures necessary to facilitate the smooth flow of goods within the region.

Customs regulations within the Corridor usually require the observation of the following rules:

  • Submitting a transit goods declaration;
  • Having sufficient customs guarantee to cover customs duties and taxes;
  • Verification and identification of shipments;
  • Observation of additional control measures and required transit time, physical escort of goods (where necessary), customs seals and affixing identification marks.

 

Customs Clearance

Customs clearance usually affects the volume of trade and the speed with which cargo is handled from the port of entry to the final destination. However, it is crucial that minimum time is spent during Customs clearance at loading points, off-loading points and borders.

Port clearance

Goods destined to countries of the Northern Corridor primarily transit through the Port of Mombasa in Kenya. To expedite the process of clearing cargo from the Port of Mombasa, the Kenya Ports Authority has reduced the number of release/stop stamps required from 21 to 11. The Kenya Revenue Authority and the Kenya Ports Authority now require four stamps each; while the Port Police, the Kenya Bureau of Standards and Clearing Agents require one stamp each. All these stamps are affixed on the Mombasa Port Release Order (MPRO).

View Release or Stop stamps required at the Port of Mombasa.(broken link)

Northern corridor stakeholders have been seeking further reduction in the number of release/stop stamps required at the Port of Mombasa. However, this will be possible with the introduction of a Community Based Computer System.

Simplification of port clearance procedures

As a result of a special review of documentation and clearance procedures at the Port of Mombasa, the following measures have been realised:

  • Creation of a one-stop centre for processing documents
  • Harmonisation of working hours of various agencies operating at the port
  • Joint cargo verification by various interested parties
  • Reduction in the number of document photocopies
  • Reduction of the number of agencies affixing their stamps onto the Mombasa Port Release Order (MPRO) to four, resulting in the reduction of stamps from 21 to 11.
  • Introduction of a single Master Register, maintained at the exit gate, instead of several registers
  • Elimination of exit pass

As a result of these measures, it is now possible for landed cargo to be released from the port within two days, as opposed to the previous average of seven days.

However, transit cargo with irregular documentation are subjected to thorough processing, with the additional requirement of a bank guarantee, physical verification and/or escorts of the goods to the Kenya border post of exit

Operating hours for Port and Customs offices
Negotiations between KPA and the Dock Workers Union on the harmonisation of working hours have not been finalised.

However, KPA management and the Dock Workers Union have agreed on a temporary arrangement, which does not interrupt work.

Customs offices, which are located on the Common frontier, must be open every day, including Sundays and public holidays, from 08.00hrs to 17.00hrs. Customs administrations agreed to pay overtime for work done after official working hours.

Physical verification of goods

Physical verification of transit goods at the Port of Mombasa and in other Customs border posts is only carried out in cases where the original seals have been broken. However the importer or his agent will not be required to pay verification charges, except where a fraud has been established.

Physical verification of transit goods entering Uganda has been reduced to a bear minimum.

In Uganda, Customs authorities require trucks carrying transit goods to report at Nakawa in Kampala before proceeding to the exit border point. The introduction of a computerised customs control system has brought about major improvements in customs controls at Nakawa: customs formalities now take less than 10 minutes.

Border Clearance

The Northern Corridor Transit Agreement requires member states to provide adequate facilities and take appropriate measures to ensure speedy clearance of transit traffic at the designated border entry/exit points, as well as transit offices.

However, transit formalities are still cumbersome, especially at border posts with high traffic.

In order to streamline border post procedures and ease the flow of traffic, plans are underway to establish joint controls (one-stop border posts) at border posts which handle high traffic volumes. This will be a collaborative effort between COMESA and the TTCA.

Improved Transit Controls

Some Customs clearance procedures and transit control measures had slowed down the speed of clearance of goods through Customs and movement of goods through the transit countries.

However, measures have already been undertaken to address the problems causing delays in Customs clearance and movement of transit goods.
These include:

  • Merging of multiple Customs documents into one document-the Single Entry Document (SED) to reduce the number of documents required in Customs clearance.
  • Establishment of Transit Goods Monitoring Units within the Customs Departments
  • Increase in frequency of physical escort of goods in transit in Kenya from two to four times a week.
  • Frequent meetings between stakeholders to discuss problems in customs clearance in order to remove impediments in clearance and movement of goods within the region.
  • Negotiations are underway that may lead to exempting transit goods transported by rail from the requirement of a Transit Bond within the Northern Corridor.
  • Negotiations are also being held for one regional customs transit bond to cover transit cargo movement in the entire COMESA region.