An article from ENACT Africa on 24th July poses this question, saying that the growth of private storage facilities as port infrastructure expands is fraught with organised crime risks. A new regulation in Kenya requires operators to ferry inbound cargo directly to the modernised Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD)to clear cargo in Nairobi after hauling it by rail from the Mombasa Port. This is part of a 25-year plan launched in 2005 to improve port revenue and enhance efficiency. The article says that the Container Freight Stations (CFSes) at Mombasa Port are associated with smuggling and corruption, with facilities run by powerful businessmen, who could use their influence to get involved in cargo-clearing operations in Nairobi, and in this way spread corrupt practices. In 2018, Interpol said that criminals use Mombasa among other seaports in the region to smuggle wildlife trophies and minerals out of East Africa. They also import illegal drugs and stolen vehicles into the region. International criminal networks exploit existing informal practices and petty corruption. The ICD expansion is a logical result of exponential growth at Mombasa Port, a gateway to East and Central Africa, serving five countries with a population of approximately 204 million people. However, the article reports that initial implementation of the regulation led to congestion at Nairobi ICD, which means there’s a likelihood that CFSes could also be licensed to expand operations beyond Mombasa; and in addition to Nairobi, the government plans to open ICD or dry ports in the hinterland towns of Naivasha, Taita Taveta, Kisumu and in neighbouring countries. Uganda cargo traffic accounts for 80% of all transit cargo at Mombasa Port and a port and depots are being readied in Uganda, as there is an “inland dry port” in Rwanda. The article cautions that the spread of such clearance points is fraught with risks related to the spread of transnational organised crime which, up to now, has been confined to Mombasa Port; and to prevent this from happening, the spread will have to be accompanied by robust controls.
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