Thousands of second-hand cars could be stuck longer at the Mombasa port after implementation hitches rocked the adoption of the newly rolled out Integrated Customs Management System (iCMS.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Thursday assured importers that it is addressing application hitches with the new system. This came as motor vehicle importers raised fears of pile-up of the uncleared units following system delays.
KRA has extended the implementation of the iCMS which is a single window system that involves submitting export or import documents into a single-window system on motor vehicle imports processing.
“KRA is working on enhancing user experience as piloting of additional cargo types kicks off. We are currently piloting on motor Vehicles with a controlled group of stakeholders and addressing all issues along the way,” said KRA Commissioner, Customs and Border Control Kevin Safari.
“Since its rollout, there has never been any major technical hitches, both short term and persistent.”
But traders, shippers and importers on Wednesday told Business Daily the system hitches with the new system have caused clearance delays amid risk of pile-up of uncleared imported motor vehicles if this is not addressed.
They asked KRA to iron out teething problems immediately to facilitate their business.
KRA says the new system is expected to reduce clearing time by at least 60 percent.
“On our part as importers, delay on clearance means delays on orders as suppliers and end users wait longer to get their units,” said Stella Koech, a manager at JPC Trade, a Tokyo-based Japanese used car dealer.
“Delays are happening due to the non-familiarity with the system,” she added.
Mr Safari in response to Business Daily queries said KRA has beefed up training of users and established “onsite support framework.” He said about 6,156 individuals have been trained on the new system including clearing agents, importers, shipping agents, consolidators, EPZ operators, ground handlers, CFS operators and insurance companies.
“Training and sensitisation on iCMS has been on-going since 2017,” said Mr Safari. “KRA has put in place an elaborate support framework that ensures quick resolution of any reported issues.”
KRA launched the new system in 2016 in line with the World Trade Organisation’s requirement for simplification and harmonisation of international trade procedures. iCMS has been rolled-out at the airports including JKIA, Eldoret International
Airport and Moi International Airport. It is currently being piloted at Kilindini Mombasa.
The iCMS system replaces the Simba System, which ran on multiple platforms and required multiple points of authentication for users, thereby taking more time.
“The strategy adopted in iCMS roll-out has been a phased approach that minimises business disruptions and achieves smooth transition between the legacy and new system,” said Mr Safari. “At Mombasa, piloting started with bulk cargo, clinker which has been piloted successfully and is now live. By reviewing lessons learnt on clinker piloting, KRA is working on enhancing user experience as piloting of additional cargo types kicks off.”
Mr Safari said the new iCMS system has “interactive capabilities” that will eliminate redundant processes and automate all manual processes in the Simba System.
“iCMS replaces manual risk analysis that was carried out by KRA officers at the Document Processing Center (DPC). This means that once a declaration has been paid for, it is ready for inspection and collection,” he said.
In the iCMS, traders are required to submit sea manifests for both imports and exports 48 hours before a vessel arrives or departs.
The manifest must include the Courier/Consolidator PIN to enable the cargo deconsolidation process and cargo handlers are required to ensure their systems are ready to receive system-to-system Customs Release Messages as manual releases will be discontinued.
Once successfully implemented, all importers and exporters using it will be able to track their cargo.