Business people under Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita) have given Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) two weeks to unconditionally release Uganda-bound cargo or boycott Mombasa Port.
The ultimatum was arrived at yesterday after hours of consultation on the impact of the KRA’s decision to tax all goods that dock at the port upfront.
Previously traders have been paying collecting port fees and other handling charges.
The move, according to Kacita is not only against the spirit of the EAC integration but also hurting Ugandans traders and the economy.
Kacita chairman Everest Kayondo said: “By Wednesday there were about 4,000 containers held up at Mombasa-Kenya because of arbitrary taxes that KRA keeps introducing.”
“And for that we are giving them (KRA) two weeks, beginning immediately (Thursday) to release all Ugandan-bound cargo that have cleared all port charges and other logistical fees or else we relocate to the Dar es Salaam Port,” he added.
In addition, the traders also resolved that should their conditions fail to be met they will put pressure on the government (of Uganda) to block Kenyan products from accessing the local market.
The association spokesperson, Mr Isa Ssekitto, said they will write a formal letter to the two governments (Uganda and Kenya) communicating traders’ resolutions.
The letter he said would also remind Kenya to pay Ugandan traders $14m (nearly Shs40b) that they lost during the post-election violence of 2007/08.
However, Uganda Revenue Authority commissioner for Customs, Richard Kamajugo told Daily Monitor the piled-up cargo at port had nothing to do with the Single Customs Territory.
The cargo, which he said is almost 100 [containers] has been held because KRA wants traders to pay all tax dues upfront.
Amb Julius Onen the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade, confirmed the development, saying they are trying to handle the matter at a high level.
“Before close of the week or earliest next week this issue is likely to have been sorted,” he said.
On Wednesday President Museveni warned Kenyan that he would block the country’s goods from entering Uganda if Kenya Revenue Authority does not stop blocking Ugandan exports from entering Kenya. The President said the move was not only “myopic” but contravenes the East Africa Community Protocol. “We buy a lot of goods from Kenya. Some of those (KRA) officials are ‘narrow’ minded. They wanted to block our sugar. Now they have gone for our chicken. If I say no more, Kenya will feel it...,” he said.
Speaking at the launch of the Hudani Manji Chicken plant in Semuto, Nakaseke District, President Museveni said he would petition the Kenya government to resolve the matter.
“I shall sort it out with President Uhuru Kenyatta,” he said.
Officials from the KRA said last evening they would comprehensively respond to Mr Museveni’s comments today.