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Increased taxes halt sand business in Kilifi

10 October 2013, 18:03 Bob Ndwiga

Malindi - The multi- million sand mining and transport industry in Kilifi County has been grounded following a boycott of newly imposed charges by the county government.

Within the last one week, sand investors claim to have lost millions in the wake of a stalemate between them and the Kilifi County government.

“We are talking of an industry with a daily turnover of about KES 100 million being put into jeopardy by a government which is interested in raising revenue for its people and projects,” said one of the transporters.

More than 200 transporters grounded their lorries to protest the decision by the Kilifi County government to raise prices of sand from KES 60 to KES 950 per ton among other charges without notice.

The government also introduced a private weigh bridge and set the fees of using it at KES 200 per ton under a new system of sand industry management program covering cess, Value Added Tax (VAT) and deductions for the local sand harvesting cooperative society.

Several meetings held between the deputy governor Kilifi County, Ben Kamto, and the transporters have failed to resolve the stalemate which has seen more than 200 trucks get grounded and more than 2 000 loaders without a source of income for the last one week.

North Coast Sand Harvesters Association chairman, Alfred Agunga, asked the Kilifi County government to reconsider the new charges and allow consultations between all stakeholders.

He said that the boycott of the weigh bridge and the transport of sand would continue until the stalemate is resolved noting that it was not possible to review the prices of sand to consumers in Mombasa and other parts of the Kilifi County without consultation.

Agunga on Tuesday led the officials of the association to the Kilifi County headquarters where the group was turned away after the County Cabinet Secretary for water and environment, Mwachitu Kiringi, said he was engaged in other official activities.

“We are not happy with the way the Kilifi County government is handling this industry which is the pillar of the region’s economy and which should be treated with care lest it collapses,” said Agunda.

The investors claimed that the weigh bridge charges were too high given that the bridge cost a mere KES 3 million which the sand harvesters claim they could afford.

Sand transporters, Agunga said, ferry more than 10,000 of sand from the Mjanaheri and Kwa Ndomo sand quarries in Malindi and Magarini everyday.

County Council Cess charges, Agunga said, have been increased from KES 100 per ton to KES 200 of sand weighed at the bridge and noted that that would affect their profits at the Mombasa market.

The investors said that if the county government insisted on maintaining the new fees and charges, their business would collapse because the capital needed to buy and transport the sand to Mombasa would rise to unbearable costs and levels.

Sand harvesting in Magarini District is a multimillion industry whose annual incomes are estimated at more than KES 1.4 billion.

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