27 Aug 2019
KENYA: New Cargo Clearing System Introduced
Cargo entering Kenya will now be handled by a new automated clearing system, the Integrated Customs Management System (iCMS). Although intended to streamline the customs clearing process, some importers have complained of teething problems and lack of support for the new system.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has now fully introduced iCMS, a key milestone in the Kenyan government’s efforts to expedite customs clearance of cargo and enhance trade facilitation. iCMS replaces the 12-year-old Simba System, and includes new functionality, such as automated valuation benchmarking, automated release of green-channel cargo, importer validation and declaration, and an online link to the KRA’s online tax system, iTax.
iCMS has been implemented in phases. The clearance module for air cargo went live on 10 May 2019, while the trial roll-out for land and sea cargo began on 7 July 2019, with the first shipment using the new system clearing at the Port of Mombasa on 10 August.
The new system requires all shippers into the country to submit the following documentation through iCMS: import declaration forms, sea manifests/BAPLIE/IAR, security bonds, cargo declarations, and any exemptions. Sea manifests for imports and exports can only be submitted on iCMS through the system-to-system data exchange 48 hours before the vessel's arrival or departure. The KRA also requires all house manifests to include the courier/consolidator PIN to enable the cargo deconsolidation process.
iCMS has proved unpopular with many importers, however, and has even led to some suspending importing cargo due to problems with its use, according to local media reports. They have asked the KRA to suspend its implementation, citing difficulties with the system and insufficient training in its use from the KRA.
In mid-July, Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association Chairman, Roy Mwanthi, urged the KRA to suspend its implementation for at least two months to give users time to better familiarise themselves with iCMS. Kenya Car Importers Association Chairman, Peter Otieno, has said more iCMS customer care desks in Mombasa and at different transhipment points are needed to take the strain of the KRA Nairobi office.
The KRA acknowledged that there have been teething problems in the new system’s roll-out, but that it has now provided additional support. KRA Enforcement Manager, Collins Bosire, said: “Most people have suspended importing cargo, as Kenya Bureau of Standards agents abroad are not yet integrated into the system. We will not penalise any importer for failing to submit documents on time during their first interactions with the system. We have created three customer care desks: two at the Long House (KRA headquarters) and one at the Port of Mombasa to assist anyone who has any problem.”