Transporters oppose move to ban used trucks

A traffic police officer controls motorists at a long queue of trucks at Jomvu along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway. 

Kenyan transporters have protested the government’s ban on imports of second-hand buses and trucks.

The Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) said the ban is a clever move by the government to lock them out of the transport business after they failed to implement compulsory use of the Standard Gauge Railway.

Mr Salim Karama, one of the transporters, said the ban by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) will encourage more companies to shift their base to other East African countries where there are no such policies.

Lowering the age limit of imported trucks from eight to three years “and further banning them altogether will make … trucks more expensive and will increase from the current Sh5.5 million to more than Sh16 million,” Mr Karama said. 

“This will make them unaffordable to many transporters, causing them either to close their shop or move to countries where such policies do not apply.”

Former KTA executive director Dennis Ombok, for his part, blamed the government for introducing the policy without involving key stakeholders such as transporters.

“There is no [logic for lowering] the age limit of long-distance trucks from eight to three while the age limit [for] all other vehicles remains eight years. The decision is arbitrary,” said Mr Ombok.

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

Kebs announced on Friday last week that it would not allow the importation of such buses and trucks beginning July 1 this year.

The move will hurt 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,” the statement read.

Kebs explained that the move followed 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”.

Importers of second-hand tractor heads and prime movers not older than three years were given a grace period of up to June 30 next year, after which they too will be banned and only new units can be imported.

But the standards body said it would continue to allow imports of small vans, or microbuses, with a length of up to seven metres and other non-commercial vehicles, including saloon and SUVs, provided they are not older than eight years.


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