A Ugandan company that imports through Kenya, East Africa Plant Hire Uganda Ltd (EAPHU), is now up in arms against Unifreight, a Kenyan logistics company it accuses of mishandling its cargo.
According to a protest letter in our possession, EAPHU imported a bulldozer and instructed Unifreight CFS not to load the bulldozer, that was under their custody, onto a truck they didn’t know about.
However, they (Unifreight) went ahead to breach these instructions because of incentives they received from the transporter, (Kenfreight).
“Personal interests by your team affirmed by the fact that while the Kenya Ports Authority adhered to our instructions not to load a Kenfreight’s truck that wanted to forcefully load our container, your office conspired with them to load our Bulldozer against our explicit directives,” reads the letter in part.
EAPHU, according to the letter and material evidence in our possession, paid for all charges to Unifreight on August 29, and sent instructions that they’ll send a truck to collect the load, which the company acknowledged receiving.
On September 2, EAPHU was notified of presence of a truck at the container freight station (CFS) in Mombasa, which they denied knowing about and instructed that it should not be loaded with the container. The CFS management again acknowledged receiving the instructions, only for the EAPHU to realize that Unifreight went against their will and loaded the truck.
This prompted a meeting between EAPHU and the Unifreight commercial manager who acknowledged wrongdoing on September 5. It was agreed be offloaded, but instead, the truck was dispatched to EAPHU on September 7.
On top of it, the truck was issued with an invoice demanding Ksh210,000 truck detention and related fines.
“This is the sixth shipment that EAPHU has directed to Unifreight CFS this year. We expected that your commercial manager would see the sustainability of the long-term augmented business we bring to your CFS over the petty incentives they receive from transporters, causing them to conspire with freight Forwarders like Kenfreight, to rip off clients. These acts discourage us, as investors in Uganda and as importers through Kenya. Our case may be one of many, calling for an in depth investigation of their operations to avoid escalation in costs of investing and trading in East Africa,” adds the letter.
Unifreight is currently said to be holding EAPHU’s documents to the container ransom, seeking to be paid the fines.
“Had Unifreight not loaded the bulldozer onto the truck as we had instructed, these truck detention charges wouldn’t have been raised. Our container has accrued over $4,000 (Ksh400,000) to date, of port storage and custom warehouse rent,” concludes the letter signed by Salome Akinyi Odhiambo.