Clearing and forwarding agents lose billions in elections week

Clearing and forwarding agents have claimed losses running into billions of shillings in revenue during the election week due to slow business.

Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association chairman William Ojonyo yesterday told the Star that since last Wednesday, each of its 1,350 members incurred an average Sh900,000 in daily losses.

This means that cumulative losses incurred by the agents amounted to about Sh8.51 billion over the last week alone.

“Like we said before the elections, as agents we hoped to and were indeed ready to resume work on August 9 but what happened after voting day has left us counting losses. Cargo is attracting additional costs in the name of extra storage because of slow movement of cargo,” Ojonyo said.

During the period, agents were forced to store goods in private warehouses as they could not access the Container Freight Stations designated by carriers where cargo is packed into containers for transportation.

“There has been a delay in transfer to the CFS and units could not be cleared as a result of tension and uncertainty after the election. Most of the losses we incurred were in actual storage.”

He said that the average cost of storage in the private warehouses was at least Sh15 million per day. He said reduced activity at the port would largely affect revenue collection by the Kenya Revenue Authority.

“As customs agents, part of our job is to collect taxes on behalf of KRA.If we are not working or trade in our sector is hampered, then KRA may not meet its targets and the impact on the economy is huge.”

KIFWA called on Kenyans to rise above the elections fever and return to work, adding that the extended tension following the announcement of the presidential results had negatively impacted on the economy.

On Monday, majority of Kenyans ignored calls by the opposition to boycott work, opening shops and resuming to work all over the country. Leaders of the country’s business community also urged Kenyans to go back to work to compensate for economic productivity lost last week.

Last week, the Matatu Owners Association urged its members to resume work amid fears of politically instigated violence. MOA chairman Simon Kimutai said that about 2,000 of its 20,000 matatus were operational, resulting to daily losses of at least Sh100 million which is about Sh700 million since last Wednesday.

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All eyes now turn to Ruto