More than 1,000 new vehicles are stuck in Mombasa after the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) suspended registration services due to Covid-19.
Dealers say most vehicles purchased three weeks ago have not been collected from showrooms in Mombasa after NTSA ceased its operations.
The NTSA suspended operations in Mombasa on April 8 after Covid-19 infections soared at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Container Freight Station (CFS).
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“A number of employees from the two state agencies have been put in quarantine as a result of having interacted with victims,” said NTSA Director-General George Njao explaining the suspension of operations.
Even before the letter, the NTSA had scaled down operations in Mombasa and was largely conducting its business through on-line.
Motor industry players in the region termed NTSA's decision as arbitrary and punitive saying it also affected commercial vehicles that play a key role in the transportation of essential goods and services
Statistics from the Car Importers Association of Kenya (CIAK) show that more than 1000 vehicles, either imported or purchased from local showrooms, have been affected by by NTSA's decision.
According to CIAK chairman, Peter Otieno, the NTSA should lift the suspension for at least two weeks to register new vehicles.
“Our members are stranded due to non-inspection of the already sold units. Vehicles which have been sold and advance tax and inspection bookings paid for should be registered,” said Otieno.
He argued that while motor-vehicle traders acknowledge the threat of Covid-19, the agency should have come up with innovative ways to facilitate trade and consulted widely before deciding to suspend operations.
“We appreciate and understand NTSA fears, but we think it should have consulted us before coming up with an arbitrary decision of suspending inspections and registrations,” said Otieno.
The importers have proposed to the agency that buyers leave their vehicles at the Miritini Inspection Centre for inspection, after which they will be called to collect them without coming into contact with the NTSA officials.
“Allow us to take the vehicles to inspection stations, leave them there for you to disinfect them in the absence of our drivers, who will leave the details in the vehicles for identification purposes during pick-up time,” stated CIAK's letter to the transport agency.