The new computer system for customs at the centre of a court battle between the Kenya Revenue Authority and clearing and forwarding agents will not be withdrawn.

It will instead be improved to ensure hitches being experienced are resolved, the Government maintained on Monday.

A task force comprising business community representatives and government officials has been formed to address implementation problems.

Speaking at Treasury headquarters, Finance minister David Mwiraria said there was no question of reverting to the old system.

Mr Mwiraria said the new system would improve revenue collection, shorten the period for clearing goods and save both Government and businessmen millions of shillings lost due to inefficiency.

To ease congestion, KRA will operate 24 hours non-stop for two weeks to clear the pile-up of goods at Mombasa port.

The congestion has been caused by transition from the old clearing system that was phased out on June 30, 2005. Its place was taken by the Simba System 2005.

KRA commissioner general Michael Waweru said the revenue authority will carry on the implementation of the new system, though the High Court in Mombasa issued an order barring it from implementing the plan. He said the authority has not received the order.

The meeting at the Treasury was attended by Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa), Kenya Business Council and Kenya Association of Manufacturers.

Customs commissioner Francis Thuranira said the old system Bishopsgate Office Freight Forwarding Information (Boffin)-had outlived its usefulness.

The business community also supported the new customs system.

Kenya Business Council Chairman Wilfred Kiboro said the computerisation of core functions of government was long overdue.

"The business community supports the move and it should be replicated to other ministries," Mr Kiboro added.

Mr Thuranira said a new training schedule would start on August 1 to cater for 450 agents who had already registered.

The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association Chairman, Chris Bichage, said his association members who are registered would allow the unregistered ones undertake entry on their systems.

One cannot use the system unless he is registered.

Meanwhile, operations at the KRA head office in Nairobi were paralysed after clearing and forwarding agents downed their tools protesting at the implementation of the new tax system.

Speaking at Times Tower, an agent, who sought anonymity, said the new system was "expensive to adhere to" adding that a majority of agents were not computer literate.

"Those of us who have not been trained in the new system do not have a password to log in customs clearance documents and this will result in high demurrage costs for the uncleared goods," he said.