Car dealers are conning Kenyans of millions of shillings by selling them vehicles which are older than the eight years recommended by law.
Vehicles that are more than eight years are finding their way into the local market, investigations by the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission have revealed.
According to the agencies, the vehicle importation racket masterminded by unscrupulous car dealers, has seen buyers pay high prices believing that the cars are less than eight years when they are actually 10 to 15 years old.
The racket involves falsifying the vehicles’ documents including the bills of lading and the pre-shipment certificates that are supposed to confirm the year of manufacture.
“The racketeers target top of the range vehicles including Toyota Prados, Land Cruisers, Pajeros which they later sell to influential businessmen and politicians,” a clearing agent conversant with the syndicate said.
Documents seen by the Nation show that some of vehicles are allowed into the local market after traders get exemptions for Pre-shipment Verification of Conformity which is mandatory for all imports.
The PVOC ensures that imported goods conform with the Kenya Bureau of Standard requirements – that all motor vehicles entering the country are less than eight years.
“When importers are exempted from the PVOC requirement it is very easy for them to bring into the country vehicles that are more than eight years,” the freight agent said on condition that he is not named.
He said 50 to 100 vehicles in a week, which are more than eight years, are finding their way into the local market through falsified PVOCs and exemptions.
A KRA official, Ms Yusuf Fatma, said detectives from the tax collector had raided a Mombasa vehicle showroom and intercepted four vehicles. She said the raid was carried out after post-clearance audit showed that the vehicles were more than eight years old.
And, a KACC regional manager, Mr Mohammed Abdi, said their initial investigations showed that importers were using forged documents to clear vehicles that were more than eight years from the port. “They alter the date of manufacture on the foreign log book and forge the certificate of conformity,” he said.
Although some firms had stopped manufacturing some models more than 15 years ago, it was possible to see such models in the country with current registration numbers, he added.
The KRA commissioner in charge of investigations, Mr Joseph Nduati, said the revenue body had introduced stringent measures to ensure vehicles that were not more than eight years did not enter the country. “We inspect vehicles before they are off-loaded from ships so that those that do not meet our standards are sent back to the ports of origin,” he said.
In the past month, KRA has sent back about five ships with an undisclosed number of vehicles that did not meet local standards. He added that the four vehicles impounded last week by KRA could have arrived before the new measure was put in place.
A system had been put in place that ensured that standards of any vehicle could be established even before they physically arrive in the country, he said.
But, Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association chairman Gerald Kagumo said the syndicate involved importers, clearing agents, Kenya Bureau of Standards and KRA officers.
The four vehicles impounded during the KRA raid were manufactured in 2000 although documents indicated the year of manufacture as 2002.