URA Denies Illegally Holding Businessman’s Cargo

The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) says it cannot trace the cargo that an alleged businessman claims have been held for 117 days.

A video has been circulating on social media where the man claims that his two containers have been held in Customs Bonded warehouses illegally by URA and with no reason.

The man in the video starts by lamenting about how his businesses in downtown Kampala were destroyed in market fires before he switched places.

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He stressed that he is also being charged for demurrage more than 270,000 Shillings daily, yet he hired the containers to ship the cargo.

Speaking in Luganda, the man also accuses revenue enforcement personnel of confiscating goods immediately they are released from the bond on claims that the release documents are forged.

He wonders how a whole truck can exit a warehouse without the knowledge of the personnel there only to be impounded on the road.

But Abel Kagumire, the Commissioner in charge of Customs at URA said they got concerned after watching the video and started searching their borders and warehouses, but couldn’t find any such cargo.

On whether it is not possible for the URA staff to fail to locate cargo which is kept somewhere in one of their stores around the country, Kagumire, the head of the customs department, sais they have a well-streamlined and automated system.

He explains that right from the first point of entry, either at Mombasa or Malaba, all cargo is documented as to tax payment and where it is destined for, whether its cleared or not. This determines whether it will go to a bonded warehouse or the trader’s premises.

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At either of the two border points, the cargo is categorised into two depending on whether there are some which were not verifed at Mombasa or Dar es Salaam.

Where the personnel have no suspicion about the cargo, this is marked “Pave No” as left to continue through the normal procedure and leave the border post.

Kagumire adds that where there are suspicions that the cargo was not cleared at the first points of entry, it is marked “Pave Yes”, and this is taken for further verification, but says there is no record of cargo of 117 days being checked.

It is not clear whether the man in the video lodged a complaint with the complaints desk at URA or not.

He, however, threatens to take action individually on whoever is responsible for holding his cargo, saying that he cannot leave them to go scot-free when his family is suffering, even if it means going to jail.

Kagumire calls on the aggrieved businessman to go the Nakawa Headquarters and provide details of the cargo to help the authority trace it because, according to the taxman, it is non-existent.

The taxman says that bonded warehouses were established for the sake of importers whose cargo arrives before they get the money to clear the taxes. Under this, the cargo is allowed to be in the warehouse for not more than six months and upon payment of the tax, URA processes the release of the cargo within 48 hours.

Kagumire, however, adds that they usually encourage the owners to clear it as soon as possible so that the government gets its tax revenues.

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