Cargo clearing has been slowed by a breakdown of the computer system used to determine taxes by the Kenya Revenue Authority.
On Monday, the Kenya Shippers Council (KSC) said the delays had resulted in some shipping lines levying demurrage charges.
A check on Monday showed that the tax system, called Simba, was operating and the number of ships waiting to be offloaded had been reduced from nine to five on Saturday.
But the container terminal on Monday had 15,571 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs). It has an installed capacity of 14,500 TEUs.
Deliveries to the local Container Freight Stations (CFS) on Monday stood at 873 containers, which is low compared to normal days when more than 1,000 containers are delivered.
The crisis has been blamed on a combination of factors. These include the recent breakdown of the KRA Simba system, poor planning by cargo handling agencies, increased cargo volumes, lack of adequate container berths and other logistical bottlenecks.
The tax agency blamed a power outage for disabling the tax system. (READ: Technical glitch paralyses KRA system)
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) operations manager Joseph Atonga said when the container terminal was constrained, working on the vessels was normally slow.
“There is an upsurge of cargo arriving at the port and we are receiving three to five ships a every day,” Mr Atonga said.
The shippers council, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and KPA management have scheduled a meeting where the service will be discussed.
The shippers’ council has threatened to go to court if its concerns are not addressed.
The port currently relies on only two container berths and the rest of the cargo is offloaded through cargo berths which are not conventionally structured to handle the containers.
A mobile weighbridge introduced outside gate 18 recently by the Kenya National Highway Authority to ease overloading at the port has affected the number of containers being delivered from the port every day.
“Transporters fear the punitive overloading charges which are likely to happen when two 20 ft containers are loaded on the same truck,” Mr Atonga said, adding that truckers were taking only one container, resulting in more trucks operating at the port causing further congestion.
The crisis at the port prompted the revenue authority to issue a public notice. “Following the slow performance of the Simba system in the recent past, KRA wishes to apologise to the trading community for the inconveniences caused and assures the public and all stakeholders that the authority is making every effort to stabilise the system.”
Although the Simba system has now been restored, there is a serious shortage of staff to clear the backlog, which led to protests by truck drivers on Saturday.
Delays at the port attract demurrage charges of Sh32,000-Sh48,000 for every 20-foot container per day. At least 5,000 containers are still being held up at the entry points. KRA clears about 1,700 containers daily.