Port users in Mombasa want the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to sell by public auction over 665 motor vehicles that have been lying unclaimed at the Mombasa port for a long time.

A six-person task force appointed to deliberate on how the vehicles could be disposed of has recommended that the taxman serve a 30-day notice to the respective importers to come forward and collect the vehicles.

The vehicles that would remain uncollected after expiry of the notice should be sold by public auction, the task force recommended in a report that is expected to be adopted by the major the industry.

The vehicle owners are said to owe the KRA and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) over Sh500 million in unpaid duties and accumulated storage charges. The task force, which is led by the KPA’s reforms programme manager Mr James Mulewa, is advising both KRA and KPA to grant the vehicle importers a full waiver of accumulated customs warehouse rent and/ or port storage charges to importers of these vehicles so as to enable them to clear the vehicles.

Grant amnesty For Kenyan importers who come forward to claim their vehicles within 30 days of the gazette notice, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) should grant them amnesty even though their vehicles are over eight years old or left hand drive, the report continues.

“Vehicles still remaining uncleared at the port after the 30-day gazettement period is over should be auctioned as scrap or spare parts on “as is where is” basis for either local use or export,” the committee further recommends.

The committee says importers of most of the vehicles are from Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Such importers should approach the Government of Kenya through their respective embassies for protocol arrangements to have their vehicles disposed off in their home countries within the proposed 30-day notice period.To avoid unnecessary diplomatic friction, the sale notice should be widely publicised both locally and regionally and also be given to the embassies of the destination countries besides being placed on the web sites of all the key stakeholders such as KRA, KPA, KIFWA, KSAA, Kampala City Traders Association (KCTA), Uganda International Clearing and Forwarding Association (UCIFA), among others.

“The above recommendations and procedures if adopted by the Authorities concerned will facilitate quick disposal of these long stay vehicles at G-Section and avail the space for better use,” the committee says.The committee said the number of vehicles could be more if those lying at container freight stations were counted.

The task force has been investigating the problem since its launch by stakeholders in August last year.It was formed after the uncollected vehicles brought a parking and congestion crisis at the port area leaving little room for other cargo.

The findings show that some of the vehicles do not conform to the Kenya Bureau of Standards Act as they were over eight years old at the time of importation. Others are left hand drive, which is also incompatible with the KEBS Act. Ninety per cent of the vehicles are transit goods and they have accumulated huge storage charges.

Some of the vehicles are said to have been broken into and vandalised, some vehicles have no bonnets and/or wheels while others are severely corroded by the coastal weather especially those in the open yards.

Some of the vehicle parts are said to be untraceable as they had been loaded separately in the containers carrying the vehicles from the port of origin. “Some of these items cannot be matched with the parent vehicles; others are missing and some have already been auctioned by KRA,” the task force says.

The committee comprises of members drawn from the KPA, KRA, KIFWA, Kebs and the Ugandan business community representatives.