The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will auction hundreds of overstayed containers and vehicles at the Mombasa port tomorrow in a bid to rid the hub of unclaimed goods. Buyers started viewing the merchandise on Friday and Saturday, with port operations manager Joseph Kaguru saying KRA had put logistics in place to ensure that the exercise runs smoothly.
“We have centralised the auction and the exercise will be conducted at the port after goods earmarked for sale were moved from the Container Freight Stations (CFSs),” he said. On sale will be assorted goods including white rice, diapers, stationery, ceramic tiles, second hand clothes (mitumba) as well as used motor vehicles – among them a Mercedes Benz B Class, a Land Rover Discovery and a Honda CR-V – all manufactured in 2009.
Between July last year and April this year, the KRA has auctioned goods worth over Sh500 million in an exercise that is conducted monthly, said Mr Kaguru.
“Auctioning of abandoned goods has also helped us return empty containers to shipping lines so that they may use them for their shipments. Some of the cargo that has not been sold in the past auctions will be re-offered,” Mr Kaguru added.
Weed Out Fake Bidders
Beginning September last year, the taxman started blacklisting and denying access to bidders who fail to pay for goods they book at the auction.
The move was expected to weed out cartels that had exploited loopholes at the sale to edge out genuine buyers.
“The fake bidders are the ones who make people think that officers involved in the auction cut deals. We will not allow traders who bid but fail to pay for the goods,” the KRA said in a statement at the time.
The KRA began holding the auctions every month to discourage traders from keeping cargo at the port after importers failed to clear their goods even after a two-month amnesty.
This was after importers failed to collect more than 1,000 vehicles and 1,159 containers even after a 60-day pardon and a waiver of Sh203.5 million that had accrued as rent.
The cargo was owned by importers from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Sudan and Rwanda.
Some unscrupulous traders ship goods into Kenya purportedly as transit but intend to dump them in the local market and when conditions are unfavourable, they abandon them.