Plans by a shipping line to introduce extra charges for empty containers has sparked controversy in the Kenya maritime industry, reported All Africa.
In a notice to all shippers on May 31, Maersk Line said it would with effect from July 1 increase charges for containers delivered to shippers based on the time spent before they are returned.
For the first seven days, the charge has been US$6.6 but has been raised to $10 per day. The containers used to attract a charge of $13.2 a day after those seven days, but this has been raised to $15.
In the notice, Maersk said the increase would cushion the line from increased prices of building new containers and assist in reducing congestion at the port as well as ensuring maximum turnaround of equipment.
However, the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) has said the increase was unjustified and instructed the shipping line to withdraw the notice.
"As Maersk Line is well aware, factors influencing container dwell time at the port or Container Freight Stations are not influenced by the actions of the importer alone but also by various maritime service providers in the cargo logistics chain," KMA director-general Nancy Karigithu said.
In a notice published in local dailies, she asked importers not to pay the new charges.
The proposed increase comes at a time when the port of Mombasa is said to be one of the most expensive in the region as a result of delays in discharging cargo.
The extra expenses in the logistic chain are consequently passed on to the consumers.
According to Kenya Ports Authority, the delays would be addressed when the port creates extra capacity to deal with growing number of cargo volumes.
Besides the failure by Kenya Revenue Authority's online cargo clearing system (Simba) that led to massive backlog of cargo at the port, KPA also attributed delays to repairs going on at berth 18, which has reduced available berths for container ships to two.