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How defective, overage vehicles are allowed into local market

By Mark Kapchanga and Kibiwott Koross

Kenya: Overage and defective vehicles are being allowed into the country illegally, putting the lives of Kenyans at risk.

Investigations by The Standard reveal that laxity by an international motor vehicle pre-shipment inspection firm is behind this scary development that could see more Kenyans lose lives through road carnage.

Confidential documents accessed by The Standard show that Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Centre Company Limited (Jevic), one of the companies contracted by Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) to conduct pre-shipment inspections to ensure compliance to Kenyan standards, has been using falsified motor vehicle registration documents to clear overage and defective vehicles for export to Mombasa. The firm conducts inspection of used motor vehicles, usually from Japan and Dubai, destined for Kenya. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has already been informed of the matter.

In a telephone interview with The Standard, EACC spokesperson Yassin Amaro said investigations on the issue were ongoing, and a report may be ready by the end of this week.

“There are about 100 vehicles in our custody. We have been informed that there are also 1,000 more netted at the port, with most of them having been cleared by Jevic,” he said.

Rusty Toyota

A source at Kebs office in Mombasa who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said they had little control over the matter. “Our bosses in Nairobi might be colluding with the vehicle inspectors because they always dismiss us whenever we raise an alarm over vehicles with questionable features,” said the source.

This is corroborated by a claim put forth by a Mombasa-based Kenya Revenue Authority officer who said, “The Nairobi office is aware of the problem since we furnish them with reports of every car that comes through Mombasa Port. As we speak, there are some overage vehicles that arrived earlier this week.”He cited the case of a rusty Toyota Hilux pick-up truck that had part of its engine cabin damaged as one of the vehicles imported into the country.

“This particular vehicle was given a green light by Jevic to have passed the standard requirements. I was surprised that it was not detained at the port in Mombasa,” said the officer.

Efforts to get a comment on the subject from the new Kebs chief Charles Ngwee were futile.  “I have heard about overage vehicles being imported. But I do not think the director is ready to talk about it,” said Mr Ongwae’s secretary, who declined to pick up our subsequent calls.

Further investigations show a list of more than 115 motor vehicles that were impounded at the port of Mombasa with falsified years of manufacture.The vehicles, it has been established, belong to well-connected individuals both in the Government and Kebs, with some linked to the Office of the Deputy President.

Mr Francis Omae Oira, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is also said to have allegedly imported an overage Lexus car, according to a protest letter written to Kebs by Registrar of Motor Vehicles Francis Meja on June 9, 2013.

Mr Meja argued that the registration of the vehicle imported from Dubai “was suspect and prompted us to seek verification from the UK authorities”.

Jevic defence

He said his office confirmed that the log book presented was falsified to give the impression that the motor vehicle was a 2006 model.  “We would like to know why Jevic, who inspected the vehicle, did at the point of inspection as per their certificate of inspection number 300912-400042-15du02 dated 30/9/2012,” said Mr Meja in the letter.

Jevic is one of the three companies mandated by Kebs to conduct inspection for vehicles destined for Kenya from Japan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Singapore and South Africa. In its response in February 22 last year, Jevic’s International Operations Manager Aaron Treadaway claimed: “Jevic Dubai checked the vehicle documentation from the UK as per agreed process, and additionally viewed the Dubai Customs Authority documentation… it is not Jevic that is at fault,” said Mr Treadaway. He said it would be wise to use international laws to act against “these types of organisations”. 

The revelation brings to the fore fears that Kenyans could be losing millions of shillings buying vehicles at a price above their real values.

For instance, a Toyota Allion manufactured in 2006 can cost Sh1.2 million while that manufactured a year earlier could cost Sh800,000. This means fraudsters could be making close to Sh400,000 per vehicle.

A senior Kebs officer in Mombasa who asked not to be named said it had become the norm for the standards body to allow overage cars into the country.

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