Friday, October 18, 2013

Container Freight and Warehousing Groups Win Stay of Execution over Cargo Forwarding Monopoly

Port Authorities Back Off After Threat of Court Action - Meanwhile UN Military Equipment Delayed and New Cranes get Go Ahead
Shipping News Feature

KENYA – SOUTH SUDAN – The monopolisation of freight en route to South Sudan, details of which were included in our piece earlier this week, has been ‘suspended’ according to local reports. The plan had been to route all cargo between the two countries via a Sudanese registered company, Panda Clearing and Forwarding, which already carries out the logistics for government contracts, and was harshly criticised by warehousing and container shipping interests.

The scheme was due to be introduced on October 15 but a meeting held between the Kenya Port Authority (KPA), Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (KIFWA) and representatives from the Container Freight Station Association seemingly averted implementation of a scheme to route all freight via Panda and cargo handlers the Compact Freight Station.

It appears that the threat of legal action for anti-competitive behaviour resulted in the suspension but officials of the KPA remain adamant that this is a delay, not the abandonment of the plan, and that the Authority was merely acting on governmental instructions. The Panda group will continue to be responsible for all government cargo whilst private sector freight shippers will be free to choose their own clearing agents.

The KPA will be cheered by the news however that the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) has finally given the go ahead for their purchase of three ship to shore gantry cranes from messrs. Liebherr Container Cranes after objections were raised by one of the four rival firms tendering for the contract. Kocks Krane GmbH had appealed the decision to award the contract to the Irish division of the Swiss based manufacturer saying the tender process had not been adhered to. Liebherr reportedly lodged a sealed bid of K.Sh2.4 billion against the Kock bid of K.Sh2.6 billion.

In the meantime we await to hear if the UN mission military vehicles which arrived in Mombasa Port last month still remain stranded in the area after a dispute over delivery charges. The stock of equipment arrived in early September from India, destined for the troubled South Sudan and reportedly included 120 trucks, 36 tanks and an assortment of armoured vehicles and, according to the local news, were cleared with Customs by Jetspeedair, headquartered in Kampala, in neighbouring Uganda.

After leaving the docks the convoy of vehicles has apparently been stored at various sites within Kenya, and even at the roadside and at the Uganda border, whilst a dispute over unpaid trucking fees is resolved, with road haulage operators saying the pre-payment terms for carrying the goods on to their destination had not been met. A request for comment from Jetspeedair currently remains unanswered.