STRANDED

Kebs holding 12,000 motor vehicles over 8 year rule.

This is despite most of the units meeting requirements outlines by government

In Summary

•Kebs says importers have been requested to submit necessary supporting documents demonstrating that the delay was due to the Covid-19 impact.

•Car importers say they submitted the required supportive documents as early as December, with some having even paid taxes, but units are yet to be cleared.

Imported second-hand cars at the Port of Mombasa await clearance
Imported second-hand cars at the Port of Mombasa await clearance
Image: /FILE

Used car importers could lose millions as more than 12,000 units remain held at the Port of Mombasa over the eight-year age limit rule.

This ivehicles have undergone the  on-time inspection by the Kenya Bureau of Standard (KEBS)'s appointed agents in the country of origin, and issued with Certificates of Road-worthiness.

The affected batch are vehicles manufactured or first registered in 2013.

Only second-hand cars of up to eight years are allowed into the country, meaning starting January 1, this year, only 2014 units were being cleared.

The 2013 units delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic where vessel crew had to undergo mandatory 14-days quarantine at the different ports of call before they arrived in Kenya, according to the Car Importers Association of Kenya (CIAK).

We hope the government will address the issue soonest possible because people have invested millions in these imports.This (Covid) is an act of God and beyond importers' control. Kebs should be pro-active and address the matter
Car Importers Association of Kenya national chairman, Peter Otieno 

For instance, there are units that were inspected in October, shipped on board between November 11 and 14, but arrived in Mombasa between January 2 and 7.

Mv. Tasman left the Port of loading "Osaka" on November 11, 2020 and Kota Loceng left the Port of loading "Yokohama" on November 11.

Shipping transit times between Japan (Kenya's biggest used car import source) and Mombasa are between 26 to 30 days, depending on the departure and destination ports as most vessels call at a number of other ports on their way to Kenya.

This means on normal occasions, the vessels would have arrived in Kenya within the first weeks of December but due to Covid-19 effects on the voyages, the vessels could not arrive in time.

Importers had in December warned that about 30,000 units would arrive in the country late.

In December, Industrialisation Trade and Enterprise Development CS Betty Maina asked importers to advice when the vessels would arrive, for assistance, but only for vehicles that had been inspected on time.

Importers were also expected to share details of units that were inspected on time by Kebs appointed agents in the country of origin, and details of the shipment.

Though all these units have been approved to Kebs for consideration, no clearance has been given two months later, raising questions over Kebs' commitment to clear units that met requirements, but delayed due to the pandemic.

Yesterday, it (Kebs) confirmed all 2013 model vehicles that arrived at the port of entry after December 31, 2020 were not allowed entry into Kenya.

"None has been cleared so far,” Kebs communication team told the Star, "Affected importers have been requested to submit necessary supporting documents demonstrating that the delay was due to the Covid-19 impact.”

CIAK national chairman Peter Otieno however said importers of affected units submitted the required supportive documents as early as December, when the vessels were still in the high-seas and had been projected to arrive late.

“Some of them had even paid taxes. The agreement was vehicles that had been inspected on time and shipped on board within the right time lines would be allowed but this is not happening. The fate of these units remain unknown,” Otieno said yesterday, during a telephone conversation with the Star.

Sources at Kebs however indicate the delays are as a result of a failure by the board sectary to call for a meeting to consider the importers' plea.

“We hope the government will address the issue soonest possible because people have invested millions in these imports,” Otieno said, “This (Covid) is an act of God and beyond importers' control. Kebs should be pro-active and address the matter.”

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

The 'affordable' second-hand cars dominate the local market accounting for 85 per cent of Kenya's car purchases.

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.

Yesterday, CIAK said neither the shipping lines nor the importers can be blamed for the delays witnessed during the pandemic period, as vessels had to follow Covid-19 protocols in the different countries they sailed, leading to late arrival.