Politics and policy

Kebs and radiation board clash over car checks

Cars on sale: Kebs has warned the radiation board that it risks attracting litigation from importers on accusations of overstepping its mandate. Photo/File
Cars on sale: Kebs has warned the radiation board that it risks attracting litigation from importers on accusations of overstepping its mandate. Photo/File 

The Kenya Bureau of Standards and the Kenya Radiation Protection Board have locked horns in a turf war over the screening of imported second-hand cars from Japan.

The dispute follows Tuesday’s assertion by the radiation agency that its mandate was to ensure public safety.

“All used motor vehicle units from Japan and other Far East countries have to be inspected for radiation contamination,” Mr Nixon Mdachi, the principal radiation protection officer in Mombasa said.

The board said its operations at the port of Mombasa arrested contaminated import cars despite pre-shipment inspection by Kebs’ agent in Japan.

“An incident occurred on January 26, 2013 where imported containerised used motor vehicles from Japan were detected with radiation-contamination by a portal monitor at Berth 16,” Mr Mdachi said.

The Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Centre (Jevic) is contracted by Kebs to conduct pre-export road-worthiness inspection (RWI) of used motor vehicles from Japan and Dubai.

Kebs managing director Eva Oduor cautioned KRPB against stretching its mandate to inspection of goods entering the country.

“There is no value for another agency to try and play the role of Kebs. The scheme is quiet clear on how we deal with cars that don’t meet the requirements,” she told Business Daily.

Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia in August raised concerns over possible importation of radiation-contaminated vehicles after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant incident of March 2011.

(Read: Kenya starts radiation checks for Japanese cars)

Mrs Oduor warned KRPB that it risked attracting litigation from importers if it overstepped its mandate.

“KRPB should feel free to talk to us instead of making proclamations that are way off their mandate. If something is contentious they need to raise it with Kebs,” she said.

Kebs is established under the Standard Act and falls under the Industrialisation ministry while the KRPB is a product of the Radiation Protection Act under the Public Health and Sanitation ministry.

According to Radiation Protection Act, the board advises the minister on radiation protection, radioactive waste disposal, policy and licensing. It is also required to keep a register of owners of irradiating devices, radioactive materials and other sources of ionising radiation imported into or manufactured in Kenya.

Kebs develops and promotes standards on products, measurements, materials and processes at national and international levels.

The turf war comes in the middle of a row between the KRPB and the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) over inspection of cars. Kifwa on Monday called for a review of the inspection, saying the charges were exploitative.

aodhiambo@ke.nationmedia.com