The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has defended its decision to destroy over 2,000 cars worth Sh4 billion being detained at the port of Mombasa for flouting the eight-year import cap. The High Court has already halted the impending decision after Cars Importers Association of Kenya obtained a stay order which was served on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
Parties Wednesday appeared before Justice Edward Muriithi for interparties hearing with Kebs reiterated that it has a statutory mandate not to allow importation of the eights year old vehicles. The association listed Kebs, Industrialisation and Enterprise Development Cabinet secretary, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Maritime authority (KMA) as respondents.
Through lawyer Ashitiva Mandale, Kebs told the trial Judge that the law also provides a leeway for such vehicles to be reshipped at the cost of importers. Asked by the Judge why the safety regulatory agency has resorted to taking the drastic option of destroying the vehicles when the law provides for other alternative.
Mr Mandale responded: “The remedies are there and it the applicant to move the regulator to exercise other available options. They would have suggested for reshipment of the vehicles”. Cars Importers Association of Kenya insisted that its fleet of cars being held at the Mombasa port is not over eight years old arguing that they were manufactured on diverse months within a given year. However, Mr Mandale submitted that the age of vehicles are classified in accordance of the year of manufacture.
“The rationale was to make work easier. Kebs is concerned with the year manufacture for purpose of protecting consumer in this country. Vehicle manufactured in January has high value than one manufactured in June. We are third world country and there is need for protection against dumping,” he added
Mr Mandale further told the court that the law was passed on March 31, 2000 and accused the association of cars importers of being mischievous to challenge the law 13 years down the line.
“It is the first respondent submission that no decision regarding the eight years old was made in 2013. The decision was made March 31, 2000 by way of gazette number 1924. The law does not remind applicant to ensure compliance. This reminder makes reference to an existing law,” he added.
The lawyer submitted that the trial court has no jurisdiction to hear the case since it cannot dictate to Kebs on how to conduct its statutory functions adding that the applicant ought to have petitioned the parliament to amend the law stopping importation of vehicles older than eight years into the country.
The Cars Importers Association of Kenya is seeking judicial review of the state decision to order the destruction of 2006-manufactured motor vehicles members had imported that were detained at the port of Mombasa.
The motor vehicle importers sought an order of certiorari to quash Kebs’ order for the re-inspection of vehicles registered in 2006 and imported between August to December last year.
However Mr Mandale told the court that section 5 of kebs rules states that all imported good shall be subjected to re-inspected at the port of entry if deem so.
“Kebs has not expanded anything. It is just guided by the law. The issue before you is not that the vehicles are unroadworthy but compliance of law. They have indicated the number of vehicle, profit they will make but no aspect as to regard of quality of the same vehicles can be quantified,” he added
The applicants argued that the units were already issued with certificate of roadworthiness valid for 90 days from their respective dates of importation. They argued the Kebs action is unconstitutional and contrary to sections 1A, 1B and 3A of civil procedure rules among other laws.
Through lawyer Gikandi Ngibuini, the car importers further faulted Kebs directive that the motor vehicles should not be allowed into the country on account of date of manufacture.
“The first respondent declared that motor vehicles that were first registered any time before January 1, 2007 could not be allowed to be imported into Kenya as from January 2014,” he added.
Administration of the car import regime is, however, done by Kebs that runs the pre-shipment inspection in Japan and other key source markets.
Kenya is the only East African country to bar vehicles older than eight years from the market but several units have been time barred in the high seas, especially during end of year.