Government bans the importation of second-hand buses, trucks

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Trucks drivers at Kocholia in Malaba border on September 21, 2021. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The government has banned the importation of second-hand buses and trucks into the country, in a move that could be disruptive for dealers in used vehicles but is a boon for the local auto assembly industry.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) said it would not allow the importation of buses and trucks into the country beginning July 1 this year.

“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 on 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.”

Kebs, 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.

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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.

The second-hand imports will, however, be required to be of higher standards, especially in terms of emissions, with Kebs requiring them to have met the Euro IV/4 standards on emission in an attempt to fight pollution and improve air quality.

“All imported new diesel-powered and petrol power vehicles shall be type-approved to meet the requirements of Euro IV/4 before importation into the country,” said Kebs.

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The EuroIV/4 emissions standards, introduced in 2005, are stringent requirements on auto makers requiring that they produce vehicles whose engines have lower emissions.

Europe has progressively implemented additional standards that are even more strict and is gearing to implement EuroVII/7.

The ban on importation of commercial vehicles could be a boost for the local vehicle assembly industry, which the government has in recent years made attempts to grow.

In the budget for the 2022/23 financial year, the National Treasury has given incentives to local assemblers that include exempting parts used on assembly of vehicles from paying Value Added Tax (VAT) as well as exempt from excise duty locally-made passenger motor vehicles.

“Assembly of motor vehicles and manufacture of motor vehicle parts locally has gained traction. In order to encourage more investment, especially in the manufacture of passenger motor vehicles locally, I propose to exempt from VAT inputs and raw materials used in the manufacture of passenger motor vehicles. Additionally, I propose to exempt locally manufactured passenger motor vehicles from VAT,” said Ukur Yatani in his budget statement last month.

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“Currently, locally assembled motor vehicles are exempt from excise duty. In order to ensure the same treatment for manufactured passenger motor vehicles, I propose to exempt from excise duty locally manufactured passenger motor vehicles. This is aimed at encouraging investment in this sector and enhancing the competitiveness of locally manufactured passenger motor vehicles.”

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