Importers confident of beating 8-year rule on used cars

Deadline for importing 2014 units is December 31.

In Summary

•Last year, more than 18,000 units arrived late.

•Lobbying by sector players however saw the government allow clearance of imports that had documents indicating the orders were made on time.

Imported used cars parked at a yard in Mombasa/
Imported used cars parked at a yard in Mombasa/

Importers of used cars are confident they will beat the eight-year rule for 2014 units whose clearing deadline is tomorrow.

This comes after more than 18,000 units manufactured in 2013 arrived late last year, due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic disruption in the shipping industry.

Lobbying by sector players however saw the government allow clearance of imports that had documents indicating the orders were made on time, and indeed delays were on shipping the units as a result of the pandemic.

Yesterday, the Car Importers Association of Kenya (CIAK) expressed confidence in beating the deadline this year, which will save importers from losses that come with delays.

The eight-year rule once caught up with importers 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 individuals.

“Our members are nowadays organised,” CIAK national chairman, Peter Otieno, noted yesterday.

A car that fails to beat the eight-year rule is either destroyed or shipped back at the importers’ expense.

The deadline for importing units manufactured or first registered in 2014 is December 31.

“We wish to notify all importers of second hand motor vehicles and the general public that in observance of the eight year age limit requirement, only Right Hand Drive motor vehicles whose year of first registration is from January 1, 2015 and later shall be allowed into the country,"Kebs MD Bernard Njiraini says in a public notice.

There has been an increase in the number of vessels bringing in motor vehicles in the months of November and December, as importers rush to beat the deadline.

On average, Kenya imports between 7,000 and 8,000 units per month but this goes up to 10,000 in December when the units have a cheaper buying price in the import source markets, with Japan accounting for 80 per cent of exports to Kenya.

The prices average Sh300,000 but taxation and shipping of these units pushes the prices to an average of Sh800,000 for low capacity small units and up to Sh2 million and above for bigger engines, once they arrive in Kenya.

This month, more than 10 RORO’s have docked at the Port of Mombasa.

The special vessels designed to ship wheeled cargo, such as cars, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers, and railroad cars, have a carrying capacity of 6,000 units, for small cars.

Those calling at the Mombasa port however come in with between 1,000 and average 2,000 units, meaning at least 10,000 units have been discharged in the past four weeks.

Three vessels docked at the port between Sunday and yesterday, KPA latest vessel schedule shows.

“We normally advise our members to try and make sure that the units arrive before the deadline,” Otieno notes.

Apart from Japan, Kenyans also import used cars from the UK, United Arab Emirates, Singapore and South Africa.

They dominate the local market accounting for 85 per cent of Kenya's car purchases, with an annual import of up to 90,000 units.

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

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