6,000 vehicles stuck at port over number plates

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More than 6,000 imported second-hand vehicles are lying at container freight stations in Mombasa waiting for the troubled National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to issue their number plates.

The 6,493 units are attracting storage charges of Sh19.4 million a day as the shortage of plates hit the dealers, Car Importers Association of Kenya chairman Peter Otieno said Thursday.

“CFS charges an average of Sh3,000 per vehicle a day, an expense the importer should not incur because they have paid import duty and port charges. This means that new car owners are being overburdened by NTSA’s inefficiencies,” he said, adding that the authority delivered 500 plates for the D series under the KCN number (KCN ***D) on Wednesday.

“We registered the D series in December, before Christmas. So far registration has been done up to K series. Given that each has 999 vehicles, this means 6,493 units don’t have the plates,” said Mr Otieno.

“We know that the numbers are made at Kamiti prison but that is a third party and the authority should look for a way of dealing with them.”

CURB ACCIDENTS

The authority has been on the spotlight over its failure to curb accidents on the country’s roads. On Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the agency out of the roads, with the mandate being taken over by traffic police.

Kenya Auto Bazaar Association executive officer Charles Munyori accused NTSA of perpetuating corruption in the issuing of number plates.

Mr Munyori claimed that officers at the agency were asking for bribes before releasing new plates. “Right now the plates are scarce but if you approach an officer with Sh4,000 you will get one. They keep blaming the Prisons for not making enough plates but that’s not the problem,” he said.

He suggested that making of plates be given to private companies since NTSA had failed.

Mr Munyori spoke as an MP revealed plans to lobby Parliament to review the Traffic Act, in view of the many road accidents.

TRAFFIC ACT

Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni said there was need to interrogate why NTSA had failed to implement its mandate.

Speaking at Nyahururu County  Hospital, the MP said; “There is need to review and re-look at the Traffic Act. We have to establish why NTSA failed and why accidents have persisted on our roads.”

Separately, driving school owners have welcomed the withdrawal of NTSA officers from the roads. They also accused the agency of creating confusion in the transport sector.

The school owners, who have been engaged in a war with NTSA over new rules introduced by the agency, urged President Kenyatta to return to the Traffic department all functions that were initially under it.

“We wish to support the President’s move on NTSA for the reason that the body had failed in its mandate to streamline the sector,” said the chairman of the Kenya Driving School Owners Association, Mr John Mwatha.

BAD BLOOD

The association spoke as it emerged that bad blood between NTSA officials and traffic police officers seconded to the agency may have compromised enforcement of transport rules.

A random chat with police officers attached to NTSA on the killer stretch between Salgaa and Kamara on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway revealed serious gaps that might have compromised safety.

Some of the officers who spoke to the Nation said NTSA was incompetent. “Truth be told, the bad blood between NTSA people and police officers seconded to the authority may have led to loss of lives … there’s a lot of  confusion, and vested interests here,” said a senior police officer.

In December, NTSA officials were accused of chasing a vehicle that caused a serious accident involving a bus that killed at least 17 people.

However, NTSA Director General Francis Meja denied the claims.

On Thursday, Dido Guyatu, in charge of communications at NTSA, could not be reached for a comment as calls and texts to her mobile phone went unanswered.

 Reports by Gitonga Marete, Steve Njuguna, Peter Mburu, Joseph Openda, Francis Mureithi and Diana Mutheu

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