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Furore as Kenya lowers age of imported buses, trucks

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By ANTHONY KITIMO

Representatives of long distance transporters have protested a Kenya government move to ban import of second-hand buses and trucks older than three years since their year of manufacture saying it is against the protocol of the East Africa region concerning the transport sector where uniformity of rules and laws applies.

The transporters and truck owners said the new policy will give transporters from other countries in East Africa an edge in the sector since Kenyans can’t afford to buy new buses and trucks.

The group also claimed lowering of the age limit from eight to three is a further attempt by government to force the use of Standard Gauge Railway as it will make long distance trucks more expensive.

Salim Karama, a transporter said the new rule by 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 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.

Former Kenya Transporters Association Executive Director Dennis Ombok faulted the government for introducing such policy without involving key stakeholders such as transporters.

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“It is not objective to lower age limit of long distance trucks from eight to three while age limit of all other vehicles remains eight years. The decision is arbitrary,” said Ombok.

He added, “The unilateral decision offends the protocol of East Africa concerning the transport sector where uniformity of rules and laws is a requirement but we shall have Ugandan and Tanzanian companies importing trucks which will ply our roads using current requirements.”

In its announcement published by Kebs last week, it stated it would not allow the importation of such buses and trucks into the country beginning July 1 this year.

The move could be disruptive for dealers in used vehicles but is a boon for 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 in a statement Friday, 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, gave second-hand tractor heads and prime movers not older than three years a grace period of up to June 30 next year, after which they too will be banned and only new units can be imported into the country.

Kebs has, given second-hand tractor heads and prime movers not older than three years a grace period of up to June 30 next year, after which they too will be banned and only new units can be imported into the country,” read part of the notice.

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.



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