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Kenya subjects imported vehicles to radiation checks

Japanese vehicles being shipped to Kenya will be subjected to radiation checks amid increasing complaints by users of health complications since the March earthquake that affected some nuclear power stations.

The Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Center (Jevic) says in a letter the radiation inspections would be conducted under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code and International Atomic Energy Agency’s safety standards.

Jevic is under contract from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) to conduct pre-export road-worthiness inspection (RWI) of used motor vehicles from Japan and Dubai to be shipped to Kenya. The May 24 letter to all motor vehicle importers indicates the inspections are starting this month.

Sources at Kebs said complaints from user of cars shipped in after the destruction of the nuclear plant in Northern Japan were on the increase. Jevic said the random checks would affect about 10 cars out of every 5,000 cars.

A section of custom agents said they had received complaints from importers. “I have received complaints from customers ranging from dizziness, chest pains and headaches once the air conditioners are switched on,” said Vincent Momanyi, a customs agent in Mombasa. “The Kenya government has added radiation inspection to the inspection criteria. Radiation levels inspections to IAFA standards shall be undertaken to all Fukushima registered vehicles,” said a letter from Jevic to all second hand car importers in Kenya.

Other countries have since the destruction of the Fukushima nuclear plant put elaborate measures to bar cars with excessive radiation from entering their markets and impounding others at ports of discharge. Cars with radiation levels of exceeding 2.3 times prescribed limits and others containing radionuclide traces have been impounded in the Far East.

There will be no extra charges for the inspection which dealers say is more likely to delay shipment. Direct shipments from Japan take three weeks while indirect shipments take one and a half months to arrive at the port of Mombasa. A radioactivity inspection would cost $100 (Sh8,600) if it were made a standard requirement. Today, a unit is inspected at a cost of $300 (Sh25,800).

Industry players estimate that the move would increase the costs of shipment transforming into an extra cost of $100 per unit. “Due to the nuclear threat, there will be fewer units for sale at auctions, meaning higher prices,” said Aamir Butt, a manager with Turbo Motors. The prices of second hand cars have already gone up due to increased demand in the face of supply bottlenecks from Japan.


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