Car importers in crisis talks on rules

Imported second hand vehicles at a yard in Mombasa. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG 

Second-hand car traders have called an emergency meeting amid their growing concerns over State plans to restrict imports to newer vehicles in an effort to boost the domestic automotive sector dominated by firms such as Isuzu East Africa, Simba Corporation and D.T. Dobie.

The Kenya Auto Bazaar Association, the umbrella body for used car importers, said on Friday the urgent meeting would address ramifications of the proposed policy.

According to the notice, the meetings are set for tomorrow in Nairobi and Mombasa on Wednesday.

The government intends to restrict imports of cars to those that are three years old or newer by 2021, according to the draft policy proposal.

Current regulations allow car imports of up to eight years old.

Local car assemblers welcomed the proposal, saying it would boost their businesses while the used-car dealers said the rules set the stage for a sharp rise in prices and taxes payable on the units.


Secondhand car imports are popular among the majority of Kenyans because they are affordable compared to locally assembled units or new vehicle imports.

The State hopes the new policy will revamp the once thriving car assembly industry of the 1990s whose players say they were hurt by policies that encouraged the importation of cheap second-hand cars.

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently urged local motor vehicle assemblers to innovate ways of producing quality and affordable vehicles for Kenyans.

The President said recently the move would discourage the importation of used vehicles, which are cheaper than assembled locally cars.

“We have to think outside the box. I encourage you to come up with real solutions in the motor vehicle industry that will benefit Kenyans,” said Mr Kenyatta earlier this month when he met members of Kenya Association of Manufacturers to discuss the National Automotive Policy.

Manufacturing is one of the key pillars of the Big Four agenda, which aims at creating thousands of jobs for the youth.

“We all acknowledge that the importation of used cars has led to the slump of the vehicle manufacturing sector in the country,” Mr Kenyatta told the lobby group.

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