Thousands of new jobs to be created with Mombasa set to get world-class free trade zone (FTZ) similar to Dubai's

The 1,000-acre Mombasa re-export gateway will initially handle 100,000 vehicles annually and 500 motor vehicle inspectors will be trained this year.

The establishment of the FTZ already in advance stages since the Cabinet approve the plan almost four years (February 2014) would see vehicle imports destined to other markets in the region first received and sorted in Mombasa creating thousands of jobs for traders and service providers such as collecting cargo handling fees.

An FTZ, such as the world renowned Dubai, is a re-export gateway where goods in transit are temporarily stored to avoid strict customs regulations and lengthy administrative procedures that home-bound imports face.

Goods in such a customs haven only get taxed when they end up in the local market.

The 1,000-acre Mombasa re-export gateway will initially handle 100,000 vehicles annually, Treasury secretary Henry Rotich estimates in a draft Budget Policy Statement (BPS) released on Friday.

“We intend to strengthen trade facilitation programme,” Mr Rotich says in the draft BPS.

Mr Rotich says 500 motor vehicle inspectors will be trained this year and stationed at the facility to ease clearance.

FTZ would also go a long way in cementing Kenya's economic hub status in the region and make lives of vehicle owners easier as well since they will no longer have to incur demurrage charges faced by home-bound imports that have to undergo lengthy clearance including obtaining number plates.

The Mombasa FTZ is conceived to serve the landlocked states under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the single-largest export destination for Kenya’s goods accounting for 35 per cent of Sh578 billion worth of goods exported in 2016.

All the vehicles on transit will be moved directly from Kilindini seaport to the FTZ from where they can be evacuated by railway or roads to the final destination.

Apart from motor vehicle re-exports, the ministry has been mulling over FTZ to handle electronics, machinery and building materials

The State-owned facility is tipped as one of the flagship projects that the government is banking on to raise the 2018 export earnings by 10 per cent and 20 per cent annually by 2022.

Mombasa County has also been planning set up its own FTZ with Governor Hassan Joho setting aside cash from as early as 2013/2014 for land purchase.

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