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Economy

Costly used vehicles in Uhuru age limit push

Second-hand imports are highly popular with the middle-income earners. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Second-hand imports are highly popular with the middle-income earners. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Second-hand cars may cost more if President Uhuru Kenyatta succeeds in his push to implement a regional air pollution deal that calls for a lower age limit for used-vehicle imports.

Mr Kenyatta told the United Nations Environment Assembly conference in Nairobi that he would host East African Framework Agreement on Air Pollution and push for its implementation.

The agreement reached in 2008 recommended the slashing of the age limit for imported cars, in a raft of measures intended to promote a cleaner environment.

“In furthering the agreement on air pollution, we hope to repeat the success we have achieved with the ban of plastic carrier bags, and we look forward to global support in this effort,” he said on Tuesday.

The agreement led to an East African Community (EAC) resolution has recommended the slashing of the age limit for imported cars to five years.

Used cars tend to be worse for the environment than newer ones due to their declining fuel efficiency as they age.

Kenya only allows the import of second-hand cars not older than eight years while Tanzania has set its limit at 10 years.  

Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan do not have any such limits. On average, cars in the region are 15 to 20 years old.

Second-hand imports are highly popular with the middle-income earners as they are cheaper. New cars are out of reach for the majority, with most dealers only focusing on a few wealthy buyers, government, big companies and aid agencies. 

“Enact regulations to restrict the age of imported vehicles and to ensure that imported gasoline vehicles are equipped with functioning catalytic converters by 2011,” says the delayed Framework Agreement President Kenyatta is pushing for its implementation.

The agreement also calls for minimum agreed emission standards and improved fuel quality.

Mr Kenyatta reckons that environmental matters will be central in his development agenda since evidence had shown that pollution was a major cause of ill-health, food shortage, a lack of clean water and destruction of marine life.

“The ban (plastics bag) may seem only a small step. In fact, it has already cut plastic pollution substantially,” he said.

The ban on plastic carrier bags came into force on August 28, which means that anyone found selling, manufacturing or carrying faces fines of up to Sh4 million or prison sentences of up to four years.

It took Kenya three attempts in more than years to finally effect the ban.

Industrialists lobby Kenya Association of Manufacturers said the ban would cost 60,000 jobs and force 176 companies to close shop. The government says that environmental concerns were more important than commercial interests.

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