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Importers anxious as 2013 cars continue to arrive late

Only vehicles registered in 2014 are allowed into the country as per the law.

In Summary

•At least 30,000 vehicles had been projected to arrive late in the country, exposing car dealers and importers to loses running into billions.

•Three motor vehicle-carrying vessels are expected to dock at Mombasa between today and January 31, with an estimated 18,000 units.

Second hand cars awaiting clearance at the Port of Mombasa
Second hand cars awaiting clearance at the Port of Mombasa
Image: FILE

Importers of used cars are facing a possible lock-out for late arrival of 2013 units as vessels carrying the load continue to dock at Mombasa, most recent being today.

At least 30,000 vehicles had been projected to arrive late in the country, exposing car dealers and importers to loses running into billions.

Three motor vehicle-carrying vessels are expected to dock at the Port of Mombasa between today and January 13, with an estimated 18,000 units.

Hoegh Sydney which arrives in Mombasa this morning, after docking at the Port of Dar es Salaam on January 2, was booked in the Kenya Ports Authority systems on December 19, meaning it has 2013 units.

Dignity Ace, booked on December 31, is expected to dock at Mombasa next Tuesday (January 12).

It left Amsterdam on December 18 and is expected at the Port of Dar es Salaam before heading to Mombasa. It has called at three major ports in Belgium and one in the UK, before sailing to the East Africa.

Another late arrival is Lavender Ace which was booked on December 31, and is expected at the Port of Mombasa on Wednesday next week (January 13).

It's current position is in the Gulf of Oman.

The late arrivals come as the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) moves to implement the eight-year rule on second-hand cars, which locks out units that were manufactured or first registered in 2013.

Only units registered in 2014 are allowed into the country as per the law.

Any vehicle registered in 2013 arriving after December 31 will be deemed not to comply with the standards and shall be rejected at the importers expense,” Kebs managing director Bernard Njiraini had said last month.

The government is however expected to consider late arrivals, where importers can prove, through documents, that their units had been purchased, inspected and issued with a Certificate of Roadworthiness on or before December 1, 2020.

“Kebs wishes to inform such importers to lodge all the necessary supporting documents to prove the impact of Covid 19 to their shipment before a waiver can be considered,” Njiraini said.

Such documentation were required to have been presented by December 28, 2020.

Sources within the import cycle have however indicated to the Star that a section of importers are yet to secure clearance for their late imports, hence face a lock-out on their units.  

Vehicles from countries where Kebs has an inspection agency (Japan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Thailand, Singapore and South Africa) shall be expected to be accompanied with a Certificate of Roadworthiness (CoR) issued by the agencies.

“Any 2013 vehicle registered in 2013 arriving after December 31, 2020 will be deemed not to comply with KS 1515:2000 and shall be rejected at the importer’s expense,” Kebs said.

The late arrivals have been blamed on a shortage of vessels occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, which last year disrupted the global supply chain and shipping trends.

On average, a RORO (vessel designed to ship wheeled cargo, such as cars, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers, and railroad cars) carries at least 6,000 small cars.

Through the Car Importers Association of Kenya (CIAK), importers and dealers have been lobbying the ministry and Kebs to be allowed to bring in 2013 units until March this year, a move that would create a window to continue importing cheaper 2013 units disguised as delayed.

Kenya imports between 7,000 and 12,000 used cars a month mainly from Japan (80 per cent), with other key markets being United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Singapore and South Africa.

Second-hand cars dominate the local market accounting for 85 per cent of Kenya's car purchases, with an annual import of above 86,000 units.

The last time the eight-year rule caught up with importers was in 2014 when more than 2,000 used motor vehicles registered in 2006 were locked out of the country, leading to losses of millions of shillings by dealers and individual importers.

The government has been seeking to reduce the age limit to five years to promote local assembling and address emission concerns blamed on combustion in old cars.

President Uhuru Kenyatta last month affirmed his support for the growth of local industries, encouraging local motor vehicle assembling as opposed to imported used cars, which he said:“have flooded the country.”