Transporters protest ban on second-hand buses, trucks


Drop in Mombasa Port cargo is a wake-up call. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Long-distance transporters in Kenya have protested the ban on the importation of second-hand buses and trucks, older than three years since their year of manufacture, even as authorities say the policy takes effect on July 1.

According to transporters, the new policy will give transporters from other countries in East Africa an edge in the sector as new ones are expensive.

Transporters have also claimed that lowering the age limit from eight to three is a further attempt by the government to force the use of standard gauge railway as it will make long-distance trucks more expensive.

Car Importers Association of Kenya (CIAK) chairman Peter Otieno said the ban will affect not only importers but Kenyans who will not be able to import new trucks which will in turn increase the cost of transportation as the number of such units will reduce in the coming months.

He said that the move will give an avenue for other regional trucks to dominate the Kenyan transport sector as the rule does not apply in other East African countries.

“CIAK sits at the technical committee we opposed the move but numbers of local assemblers who are majority voted for the idea for their own benefit. But with the number of units assembled versus those imported, Kenya has no capacity to provide enough for the market,” said Mr Otieno.

Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta accepted and signed into law proposals targeted at improving sales of the units produced by local assemblers.

The Finance Act 2022, signed last week, exempts locally assembled cars from major taxes that are applicable on fully-built units imported from overseas markets such as Japan and South Africa.

The Head of State fully adopted proposals by the Finance and Planning Committee of the National Assembly to deepen concessions for assemblers who qualify for the tax incentives by freeing them from a requirement compelling them to source at least 30 percent of spare parts locally.

Salim Karama, a transporter said the new rule by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) will encourage more companies to shift their base to other East African countries where such policies do not apply.

“The shift by the government to ban the importation of trucks more than three years from July 1 will make trucks more expensive and unaffordable to many transporters making them either to close shop or move to countries where such policies do not apply,” said Karama.

This happens as Kebs also implements new provisions for both domestic and transit imported products starting July 1. It will also affect regional countries importing cars through various Kenyan port entries.

According to Kebs, all products or goods which are imported either for transit or domestic use must be cleared in line with the provision of the EAC Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Metrology and Testing Act,2006.

In the new provisions, all goods are required to be inspected at the country of origin and those who fail to comply will attract fines unlike before when some were inspected upon arrival at the port of entry.

This is a move to deal with unscrupulous traders who sneak vehicles meant for export more so to Uganda in the Kenyan market.

The move could be disruptive for dealers in used vehicles but may boost the local auto assembly industry.

“Kebs wishes to inform all stakeholders and the general public that effective July 1, 2022, all used passenger minibuses, midibuses, large buses, single articulated and bi-articulated business and double-decker buses shall not be allowed for importation into the country,” said Kebs adding that the move comes after the implementation of new standards aimed at increasing safety on Kenyan roads.

Kebs added that “all used rigid trucks with Gross Value Mass (GVM) equal to or greater than 3.5 tonnes and up to and including 30 tonnes shall not be allowed for importation into the country.”

The standard regulatory body, however, delayed a ban on second-hand tractor heads and prime movers older than three years until June 30 next year. From then, only new units can be imported into the country.

The standards body, however, said it would allow continued importation of small vans or microbuses with a length of up to seven metres as well as other non-commercial vehicles including saloon and SUV cars, provided they are not older than eight years.

To ensure compliance, Kebs will replace three pre-export verification of conformity standards agents after their three-year contract ended on March 31.

It signed a new three-year PVoC contract cycle with the SGS, Bureau Veritas, World Standardization Certification and Testing Group (Shenzhen) Co Ltd, China Certification & Inspection Group Co. Ltd, TUV Austria Turk and China Hansom Inspection & Certificate Co Ltd.

The companies do inspection, sampling, testing, sealing of full-load containers and issuing of necessary CoC and CoR.

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