Court to decide validity of goods inspection order

Monday January 11 2016

Imported second hand cars at the Port of Mombasa yard on November 14, 2015. Importers have argued that the decision requiring all goods to be inspected in their country of origin will negatively impact their business. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Imported second hand cars at the Port of Mombasa yard on November 14, 2015. Importers have argued that the decision requiring all goods to be inspected in their country of origin will negatively impact their business. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ABIUD OCHIENG
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A petition filed by importers challenging the recent directive requiring that all goods must be inspected in their country of origin before being brought into Kenya will be heard Tuesday.

The petition filed by activist Okiya Omtatah claims that the latest directives are based on a legal notice known as the Verification of Conformity to Kenya Standards of Imports Order 2005, which was gazetted on July 15, 2005 but stands repealed due to section 20 and 21 of the Statutory Instruments Act 2013.

“Since the legal notice is repealed, the said directive is unlawful and unconstitutional,” said Mr Omtatah.

The traders also argue that the move will negatively affect their business.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) published an advertisement on December 29, last year saying that following the expansion of the pre-export verification of conformity (PVoC) to standards programme to cover all imports destined to Kenya with effect from January 2016, only cargo that meets PVoC requirements shall be accepted for loading for destinations within the country.

KRA had also said that cargo destined for Kenya, which do not conform to these requirements, shall not be permitted to offload, and the same shall be consigned back to the country of origin at the carrier’s cost.

The traders in their application argued before Mr Justice George Odunga that in issuing the directive, KRA and Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) ignored the fact that the latter’s appointed inspectors lack the capacity to validate all imports ranging from textile, electronics, machinery, furniture, petroleum, glass, motor vehicles among others.

“The directive totally contradicts the instructions published on Kebs website stating that PVoC programme is independent of and additional to any existing import processes such as destination inspection,” the court heard.

Small scale importers claim that they will be greatly affected by the directive since a majority of makers of items such as sawing machines may not have the time to go through the motions unless the products are bought in bulk.

The government, however, says the move is necessary to protect the Kenyan consumer from sub-standard and un-inspected products.