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Used car importers set to pay Sh2,000 pest inspection fee

 13 May, 2021 Importers of used cars could soon start paying a Sh2,000 inspection fee for each unit as the government renews its efforts to stop importation of foreign pests.

The inspection fee for each minibus or van has been proposed at Sh3,000 while that for bus, lorry or truck is Sh5,000 and heavy commercial machinery is Sh10,000.

The fees have been varied compared to 2017 when the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) first mooted the plan with a proposed charge of 5,000 for each motor vehicle.

The agency says imports of used vehicles and equipment still present a major threat of introducing pests or diseases, necessitating the publication of new regulations.

“The Plant Protection (Decontamination of Used Vehicles, Machinery and Equipment) Rules 2021 were therefore developed to provide a legal framework for mitigation of the risks associated with this pathway,” Kephis managing director Theophilus Mutui wrote to importers of used vehicles on May 6.

The importers have been invited to give their views at a virtual meeting to be held on Thursday.

Used car dealers are opposed to the inspection fee, asking Kephis to first demonstrate the level of threat posed by used vehicle imports.

“Kephis needs to show evidence of the threats they are describing,” said Charles Munyori, the secretary-general of Kenya Auto Bazaar Association.

“We want to see the statistics they are relying on to introduce the regulations and set the fees. Hundreds of thousands of used cars have been imported into the country and we have not seen any danger.”

Mr Munyori added that the proposed rules should not discriminate against importation of used vehicles, arguing that pests can be introduced into the country through shipment of many other goods.

If adopted in their current form, the regulations will compel exporters of used vehicles and equipment to sanitise them in their home markets before shipping them to Kenya.

“All used vehicles, machinery, equipment, motor boats and yachts imported into or imported and transiting through Kenya whether whole, disassembled or parts and associated accessories shall be required to have undergone phytosanitary decontamination prior to shipment to Kenya,” the draft rules say.

The inspection fee will also apply to other used equipment and associated parts.

Each container packing tyres, wires or disassembled equipment will attract an inspection fee of Sh3,000 while the proposed charge for an aircraft, motorised boat and yacht stands at Sh20,000 each.

Kephis could collect more than Sh200 million annually from the inspection fees. Imports of second-hand passenger cars stand at about 80,000 per year, implying that importers will pay a combined inspection fee of Sh160 million in this category alone.

Kephis is expected to accredit companies that will inspect the cars. The proposed rules have set a penalty of Sh2 million or a jail term not exceeding two years or both for offenders.

Introduction of the Kephis fee on used motor vehicles is the latest in a growing list of port levies that have made imports increasingly expensive.

Used vehicle importers currently pay Sh1,000 for each unit as radiation inspection fee.

Others include the railway development levy at a rate of 1.5 per cent of the import’s value.

Importers of new vehicles and equipment have been exempted from the pest inspection fee, mainly due to expectation that the imports are unlikely to be infected.

New vehicles are imported into Kenya fully-built from factories in markets such as Japan and South Africa.

They are also shipped in as new parts sourced from Malaysia, Japan and South Africa and which are assembled at local plants including Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers, Isuzu East Africa and Associated Vehicle Assemblers.


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