All cars that have been registered but detained at the Container Freight Stations (CFS) because of lack of number plates can now be removed from the yards.
Car Importers Association of Kenya (CIAK) national chairman Peter Otieno said Thursday that the move is to ease congestion in the various CFSs where the cars have been detained for the last two months.
Speaking after a meeting with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials in Nairobi, Mr Otieno said all the parties, including the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and KRA had agreed that there was need to clear the cars to give room for other vehicles to be stored.
The move is a reprieve for the owners of more than 6,000 imported vehicles that were held in various CFS as they awaited the number plates. The vehicle owners will now have to take them to their various yards pending issuance of number plates.
"I'm from a meeting and we have all agreed today that all registered vehicles awaiting the physical number plates can now be released because they are duly registered; they have the logbooks and they are having the third registration sticker from NTSA.
"All those vehicles are supposed to be released immediately. There is no need for the cars staying in CFSs incurring storage charges and occupying space while NTSA is incapable of issuing the number plates," Mr Otieno said.
Mr Otieno said some CFSs have started to allow importers to take their cars from their warehouses.
"All the registered vehicles should exit the CFSs to create space for others. When they stay there, they congest the premises and the port. They are also incurring storage charges" he said.
Mr Otieno said that for the last two months, importers have recorded more than Sh540 million in custom warehouse charges that has been caused by delayed release of the number plates.
"We pay Sh2,000 every day as rent for our vehicles stored in port warehouses. For the last 45 days, we have recorded more than Sh540 million in rents as NTSA still drags [its feet] in issuing number plates," Mr Otieno said.
"This standoff has been ongoing for the last two months and it has affected our business as car importers," he said.
The chairman said that the delay had also forced them to sell their vehicles at a higher price so that they could stay afloat in business. "Because we are also in business to make profit, we are forced to sell our vehicles at higher prices," he said.
Last week, KRA allowed imported vehicles to exit the port of Mombasa without number plates following a supply hitch at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.
The taxman said it allowed imported cars to exit the port using third identifier stickers, which are pasted on windscreens.
"Before the release, we simply register the vehicle, assign it a number then issue an e-sticker to aid its release. The number plates will be fitted later," Ms Jacqueline Githinji, Director of Registration and Licensing at the NTSA told the Business Daily in an interview.