Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kenya Shipping Container And Freight Truck Corruption Allegations Persist

Fight Goes On to Ensure Fair Play amid new Piracy Allegations
Shipping News Feature

EAST AFRICA – Kenya has long struggled to lose the image of a corrupt society which clings to it so persistently. The past month or so has seen an increase in the arguments over corruption, particularly in and around the Port of Mombasa with regard to misdeclaration of imported shipments in the thousands of shipping containers which pass through the docks. Now certain sections of the media have even hinted at possible links between the port and the increasing number of pirate attacks launched from neighbouring Somalia.

In the run up to Christmas the Kenya Revenue Authority, the state body responsible for collection of taxes and customs duties on imported goods, together with the Kenya Port Authority, reacted angrily to a series of programmes titled “Port of Impunity” screened on national television, purporting to show corruption by port officials. The programmes can be viewed in full on the relevant Handy Shipping Guide Blog but readers are warned that some comments attached to the videos may give offence.

The KRA state that in the past 18 months they have dismissed over 60 employees due to “lack of integrity” and disciplined 162 more. 54% of those involved were customs officers. The allegations centre on the agreement of officials to accept the misdeclaration of goods. In the film shown on the blog the television company, the Kenya Television Network (KTN), set up an import consignment of spare parts from Dubai which does not appear on the entry documents.

KRA Deputy Commissioner Kennedy Onyonyi said in a statement there was no evidence to support the allegations made in the programmes and that “Corruption thrives in our society and KRA is not an exception when it comes to investigations of corruption issues.” In another document the KRA management insist that they had been denied the opportunity to view the film before screening and went on to say they were subject to a baseless smear campaign, attacking the reporter concerned personally.

Readers who transfer to the blog have the opportunity to post their own comments with regard to the situation regarding both corruption and piracy in the region.

Experienced freight personnel will recognise the oversimplification of the corruption investigated in the television reports. The reports cover various shipping practices including fake customs entries, bribes paid for overweight trucks and interested readers should draw their own conclusions from the evidence presented.

There is no doubt however that there will need to be a reversion to old Kenyan values over a prolonged period to imbue outside observers that corruption has been virtually, if never completely, erased in the country.

East African readers who wish to report corruption can do so via the links on the Kenyan Port Authority email link anticorruption@kpa.co.ke and Kenya Revenue Authority websites.