A number of Rwandan containers that overstayed at Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam were allowed to leave after the ports authority agreed to waive charges and penalties associated with delays in cargo clearance.
The delays were caused by Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF) Chief Executive Officer Stephen Ruzibiza told The EastAfrican that more than 2,000 containers had been released in the past week.
“At least 250 to 300 of the affected containers have been cleared to leave the port on daily basis ever since the port authority responded to our request to waive the charges, and asked for supporting documentation,” he said.
Mr Ruzibiza added they were reconciling figures from their members to know exactly how many containers are still stuck at the port so they can work towards securing their clearance.
“We are talking to the importers and the cargo owners, and we have given them the whole of next week to indicate to us how many of the containers are remaining,” he said.
Initially, the chamber of commerce and services put the figure of overstayed containers at 2,067 with Dar es Salaam port accounting for 2,000 while another 64 were stuck at Kenya ports of Mombasa and Naivasha ICD.
In addition to the waiver of customs warehouse rent, demurrage and port storage charges and penalties, PSF had requested a 120-day window for evacuation of the containers, indicating that they expected the current delays in movement and clearance of cargo to go back to normal by mid-July.
The Kenya Maritime Authority also extended the penalty-free period containers in transit at the port of Mombasa and along the Northern Corridor in its notice dated July 3.
According to the notice, all cargo currently held at the ports will enjoy extra seven days of free demurrage penalties effective July 1.
“The decision will be valid until the Covid-19 pandemic challenges subside,” it reads.
Region’s importers said Covid-19 measures introduced by respective EAC member states have significantly slowed movement and clearance of cargo in and out of the countries with a likely bearing on the cost of some goods.