Business and Finance
Traders explore alternative import and export routes
By Patrick Jaramogi
Traders have urged government to secure alternative routes of handling Ugandan imports and exports describing the Mombasa northern corridor routs as “cumbersome” and ‘costly’.
The observation was echoed by importers and exporters during a seminar on creating awareness of the risks of import and export trade along the transit routes held at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute. The seminar was organized by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.
“Over reliance on the Mombasa port is incurring huge costs to Ugandan traders due to number of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs). We need alternative route like the central corridor through the port of Dar- es –Salaam,” said Kassim Omar the chairman Uganda Clearing Industry and Forwarding Association.
Kassim outlined the numerous roadblocks, weighbridges, arbitrary charges, theft of cargo and stringent document procedures at Mombasa as some of the issues that affect Ugandan traders.
The shipping lines at the port of Mombasa operate with a lot of impunity. The arbitrary auctioning of containers and destruction of transit vehicles need to be addressed if trade is to be competitive,” he said. He described the double storage charges, unregulated transport charges and indiscriminate scanning and verification of transit cargoes as NTBs affecting trade.
“The Uganda business community needs to seize this opportunity and route their cargo by road through the Port of Dar es Salaam where value for money is guaranteed,” said Kassim.
The chairman Kampala City Traders Association Everest Kayondo said much as Mombasa route was shorter, it had a lot of issues that need solving. He said during the 2007 elections in Kenya a lot of merchandise was vandalized that has never been compensated.
“Kenya is going for elections next year but how ready are we? In 2007 our traders lost lives and merchandise was lost. To date we have never been paid. We need to plan early otherwise we are in for big trouble. Uganda needs to seek alternative routes to import and export to avoid such scenarios,” said Kayondo.
He said Ugandan traders lose over 60 containers per annum to theft along the Mombasa- Malaba route. “The Central corridor- (Dar) is safe. Over the years we have only lost one container to fire, the route is safer,” he said.
Industry and Technology state minister Dr. James Mutende said the risks such as pilferage, damage and theft of cargo impose serious risks on the transportation of imports and exports.
“The over reliance on one route coupled with the loss and misplace of cargo at the ports had resulted into loses and increased cost of doing business for the Ugandan business community. We need to efforts to mitigate such risks,” he said.