Kenya to uphold age limit on EAC vehicle imports

Used motor vehicles from other East African countries will not be allowed into Kenya without documented waiver from the country’s Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development.

Acting Transport secretary James Macharia maintained the eight-year maximum age rule for motor vehicle importation holds.

The law bars Kenyans from importing vehicles whose first year of registration is more than eight years. When computing duty, it is the year of first registration that is used to determine the depreciation of the motor vehicles.

“Used vehicles will not be allowed into the country without a specific documented waiver from the Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development” Mr Macharia told the National Assembly Committee on Transport.

He said until a protocol that brings the process into uniformity is signed it would be mandatory to seek and obtain the documented waiver.

“Does the absence of clear rules mean that this country will be flooded with used vehicles from Uganda and Tanzania in the long run?” posed Starehe MP Maina Kamanda who chairs the committee.

The waiver, Mr Macharia said, applies to Kenyans who have been residing in either Tanzania or Uganda during which period they acquired cars and want to return home with them. He said the condition by government is for the good of the country since currently there exists no uniform protocol on car age limits in the EAC member states.

There has been mounting concern that individuals are taking aantage of the East African integration to import used cars without adhering to the eight-year maximum age rule.

Tanzania has a maximum car age limit of 10 years while Uganda has no limits on car age.

Mr Macharia was responding to Chuka-Igambang’ombe MP Muthomi Njuki who sought to know if there exist regulations governing purchase of vehicles by Kenyans from other EAC states.

In October last year, the Kenya Bureau of Standards(Kebs) tightened rules on second-hand car imports, warning that it would destroy vehicles not adhering to the eight year rule at the port of entry.

This came barely six months after the regulator marked more than 2,000 vehicles worth an estimated Sh4 billion for destruction, despite pleas by importers. Kebs warned second-hand vehicle inspection firm Quality Inspection Services Japan (QISJ) that it would be fined heavily if it allows substandard imports into Kenya.

Kebs managing director Charles Ongwae said the move was aimed at ensuring that only high-quality used vehicles get into the country.

“QISJ will have to pay 10 times the cost of inspection in the event they allow defective vehicles to get into the country,” he said.

Mr Ongwae also said the firm would meet the cost of shipping back substandard vehicles and compensate affected consumers.
In September, Kebs also imposed a mandatory special inspection of new vehicles imported from Dubai amid safety concerns over illegal conversion of left-hand drive vehicles to right-hand.

Mr Ongwae said henceforth no new vehicle imported from Dubai would be allowed into the country without pre-shipment approval by the QISJ, the agency contracted by Kebs to offer quality inspection for motor vehicles imported to Kenya.

“New vehicles from Dubai which shall arrive into the country without certificates of roadworthiness shall be rejected with immediate effect” he said. “Importers and agents are therefore aised to ensure they make available new vehicles they intend to import from Dubai for Inspection to Quality Inspection Services of Japan before shipment.”

Mr Ongwae said many buyers in Kenya had been duped into buying vehicles that had been illegally converted to right hand drive in Dubai, compromising their safety.