201944636899579629244656Eastleigh traders 660 HOL

By Collins Omulo and Amina Wako

Thursday April 4, 2019


Members of the Eastleigh Business Community protest in Nairobi on April 3, 2019 over huge levies charged by KRA to clear containers. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL


Nairobi residents shopping at Eastleigh will have to find other alternatives as traders in the area have closed their malls and shops indefinitely protesting exorbitant taxes levied on their cargo by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

The traders, led by Eastleigh Bussiness Community chairman Sheikh Ibrahim Hussein, on Wednesday said that the revenue agency has arbitrarily increased tax for 40 feet containers from Sh3 million to Sh12 million, which they are opposed to.

He said that they started charging the traders the amount since February this year without giving the traders any notice or even consulting them before implementing the new charges, adding that the charges have been increasing from the initial Sh800, 000 before jumping to Sh1.2 million then to Sh3 million in late 2018.

The traders have vowed to keep their shops closed until the government hold talks with the traders.

COUNTING LOSSES

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“We have decided to close down malls and other shops until the government listens to us. I do not know for how long this will be but if the government (KRA) calls us for talks, which we are ready for, and we resolve the matter even now then we will reopen the premises,” said Mr Hussein.

He further explained that the new levy has affected their businesses with close to one million traders counting loses as most of their containers are still held at the port as they cannot afford the new tariffs.

“Let us dialogue as we are ready to pay taxes to the government but let them be realistic ones. What we are opposed to is the increase of taxes without involving the stakeholders,” he said.

Most of the traders are counting loses as most of their containers are still held at the port as they cannot afford the new tariff.

He called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene to see into it that cargo detained at the Mombasa Port for over a year now are released to them saying that the president had given an amnesty last year.

RELOCATING

“Our problem with KRA started over a year ago when they said our sugar and oil were substandard. They were retested and passed fit and the president said they be released but this is yet to happen. If they are bad then let them be destroyed,” said the chairman.

Some of the traders said they are now considering relocating to other countries with favorable trade conditions if the government will not intervene.

“We know the essence of paying taxes is for the government to be able to offer services. But the new tax regime has pushed us to the wall and we have nothing else but to close shop and go elsewhere,” one trader said.

Kamukunji Member of Parliment, Yusuf Hassan, has similarly urged the government to find a way of resolving the matter amicably saying that a fair, standard and predictable tariff system should be put in place in order for the traders to know what regular charge they are supposed to pay.

“I have gotten in touch with government officials to see into it that the issue is addressed. We are looking for a quick solution that will be a win-win solution for both the traders and the government,” said the lawmaker while addressing the traders in Eastleigh.