Cereals trade paralysed at Busia border

Trading activities in cereals at the border town of Busia have been paralysed for two executive days following a dispute between clearing and forwarding agents and the Kenya Plants Health Inspectorate Services (Kephis) over payment of new inspection fees.

Speaking to the press after a meeting with Kephis officials in Busia town on Saturday, the Chairman of the Clearing and Forwarding Agents Joseph Ouma said their two days meeting with both Kephis officials and National Government Officials had not borne any fruit.

For two days running, Busia border has had a stand-off as our Malaba counterparts are going on with business as usual, he said.

Ouma added that following the stand off, around 500 Kenyan trucks carrying cereals were stranded in Uganda and over 100 Ugandan trucks in Kenya which have not been paid for.

Right now there is no activity going on, he said expressing fear that more than 1,000 clearing and forwarding agents will be rendered jobless if cereal traders withdraw from transacting business in the border town.

He pointed out that the town did not have any other industry apart from boda boda and clearing and forwarding.

As clearing agents we are a link between businessmen and the Kenya Revenue Authority, If traders withdraw their businesses we will lose jobs, he said urging Kephis and other stakeholders to intervene.

The official further urged the top leadership to intervene lamenting that 20 clearing and forwarding agents were behind bars following the stalemate.

We have not refused to pay the required levies but we are only asking that the increment be reduced because it is too high, he said.

He further argued that there must be some cartels at Kephis who are out to over charge traders for selfish gains.

There is nowhere the government charges its people shs.14, 000 up from shs 3,775 for a trailer with a capacity of 300 bags, he argued adding that the move was illegal and traders will oppose it by all means.

Ouma at the same time stated that the agents will not hesitate to take legal action against Kephis if their demands were not addressed.

Matayos Member of Parliament Geoffrey Odanga said that the more than two hours meeting between the agents and Kephis had proved futile.

In the meeting we discussed the new demands by Kephis that has increased clearance of cereals from shs. 300 to 14,000 per truck translating to 450% increment, he said.

Odanga stated that the traders and the clearing agents had a right to express their feelings on the issues affecting them.

For the past two days, there has been a big traffic jam as trucks are stranded and produce going to waste and increasing charges for those who have hired the trucks, he said.

He urged the government through Kephis to consider the plight of the traders by charging reasonable fee that can enable them to earn some profit.

We would like to market Busia border point so that it can pass many goods and grow to international standards, he stated.

The lawmaker urged the government to give the traders more time to discuss with the relevant stakeholders and come to a consensus.

When we talked to the CEO Dr.Esther Kimani, she agreed that the status quo remains but after a while, she called and said that the new charges be put in place, he said adding that if changes are not effected, traders will take legal action.

By the time of going to the press, the agents were still waiting for Kephis Director Isaac Macharia who was still engaging with other authorities.

On Thursday, the agents were urged by Busia Deputy County Commissioner Fredrick Ayieko to obey government regulations but the stalemate has persisted forcing the area MP to intervene.

Source: Kenya News Agency