NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 6 – The Motorist Association of Kenya on Tuesday threatened court action to have a ban on the importation of used spare parts for vehicles revoked.
Chairperson Peter Murima termed the move announced by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) on Monday as unacceptable as it risks the survival of an industry worth billions of shillings.
“The spares have revolutionised vehicle repairs, because they are not only affordable but of better quality than most of new parts, a majority of which are usually not genuine,” he said.
The association said the unilateral action was ill-advised, and demanded that the ban be rescinded immediately.
“The ban is callous, insensitive, punitive, and translates into a lack of touch with the best interests of Kenyans and that’s why we are moving to court,” Mr Murima said.
He said most of the spare parts imported in the country were genuine.
“The spares are mainly sourced from damaged cars sold by insurance companies at throw-away prices in countries like the United Arab Emirates and Japan. You are better off with these spare parts as they are genuine compared to the new, but non-genuine parts,” he said.
“Kenya is not the only country that is faced with a flooding of second hand spare parts, this is a global issue”.
KEBS Managing Director Kioko Mang’eli announced the ban noting that the regulator could not ascertain the quality of the spare parts through testing as they are not covered by the standards.
The government put an age ceiling of eight years for all imported vehicles in 2005 to ensure Kenya didn’t become a dumping ground for old vehicles.
Reuben Kimaju, a dealer in used Japanese cars and spare parts on Nairobi’s Baricho Road, expressed fears of massive job cuts should the ban be effected.
“Where do you expect the hundreds of Kenyans who earn their living from this business to go?” he posed.
“We should focus on unscrupulous dealers who source their spare parts from Asia and while they look like the genuine ones, they are simple fakes,” said Kimaju.
Former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya imposed various increases in excise duty on second hand spares in a bid to discourage the use and importation of the spares.
The government then said that most road accidents were partly caused by continued importation of used motor vehicle spare parts.
According to Africa-business.com, a business guide for importers sourcing from the UAE, East African countries are a major driving force for second hand spares and as a result this business has developed into a full-fledged multi million dollar industry involving more than 100 small and medium sized enterprises in the UAE.
Countries that have recorded the highest demand for used car spare parts include Kenya, Egypt, Pakistan and Russia.
Car makers like Volkswagen, General Motors and Toyota have had disputes with companies in China over alleged copies of parts or entire vehicles.