From last year, a large number of Rwanda-bound containers stayed at the Dar port and the delay was made more grievous by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF) reports that at that time there were containers that came from China, they could not leave the port because Chinese and other exporters delayed the delivery of supporting documentation so that the transit goods could be released.
Another problem was that the goods reached at the port at a time when Rwanda went under lockdown, making it difficult for importers to clear them.
Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF) Chief Executive Officer Stephen Ruzibiza, told The East African that more than 2,000 containers had been released last week.
"At least between 250 and 300 of the affected containers have been cleared to leave the port daily ever since the port authority responded to our request to waive the charges, and asked for supporting documentation,” he said.
"We are in 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, Ruzibiza added.
Figures of overstayed containers provided by the chamber of commerce and service show Dar es Salaam accounting for 2000 while the other 64 were stuck at Kenya ports of Mombasa and Naivasha.
These containers are released if there is concern that they could be auctioned off because the fees charged for warehousing, customs and penalties are already higher than the value of the goods.
The port authorities in Tanzania and Kenya wanted to release the cargo only if all the required fees were paid in full, while the Rwanda Private Sector Federation continued to demand the facilitation of traders.
On June 22, 2020, PSF Chief Executive Ruzibiza wrote to the management of the Kenya Port Authority (KPA), as well as the Tanzania Port Authority (TPA), calling for the lifting of the sanctions.
Ruzibiza pointed out that exporters continue to face obstacles due to the Coronavirus pandemic, where they face delays in access to documents from suppliers, new border regulations, and drivers’ protests in Benaco and Maraba.
He further called for the abolition of penalties for warehouses, customs delays, and daily shipments of containers, as agreed by the EAC.
The Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), which has also written to the Tanzania and Kenya Revenue and Customs Enforcement Agencies, is calling for the lifting of sanctions on Rwandan traders as agreed in the EAC Trade Agreement.
The RRA said sanctions were unnecessary because people were facing the scourge of global catastrophe, reminding them that Rwandans are already working together well, so today it is not the time to risk them.