Manufacturers under the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) have raised concerns over the importation of Bus Rapid Transport Vehicles from South Africa.
In statement, KAM stated that the Government ought to direct its spending on locally manufactured goods with a view of supporting the Big Four Agenda.
“Manufacturing, as a key pillar in the Big Four Agenda for the country means that local sourcing towards the growth of the sector and the consequent provision of jobs to our citizens cannot be understated”, read the statement.
The statement was emphatic that favoring imports over local content, as seen in the recent importation of 64 Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) buses, bypassing local bus assemblers and body builders, goes against the agenda to boost the sector’s ability to provide employment locally and increase its GDP contribution towards the country’s economic goals.
KAM noted that the move goes against the endeavors to grow the sector at 35 per cent per year to achieve the desired 15 per cent GDP contribution by 2022. It is on this strategy that the Buy Kenya Build Kenya Strategy should be rigorous and should prevail for both the short and medium term.
Currently, the manufacturing sector’s contribution to the GDP is 8.3 per cent, with a registered growth of 0.2 per cent growth in 2017.
Transport Secretary James Macharia last week said the decision to source the buses from South Africa was because local fabricators of passenger service vehicle bodies failed to meet the required specifications.
“We are only acquiring the first batch from South Africa because the buses that were available did not conform to the KS-372- body building standards, but the rest will be sourced locally,” said Mr. Macharia.
The Association added that the Local Vehicle Assemblers have a production capacity of 34,000 units per annum, which makes them capable of producing the required number of high occupancy buses for the project.
They said if engaged, local assemblers have a shorter lead-time for delivery when compared with those being imported. Additionally, locally assembled buses have been tested and proven in the Kenyan market, where they are known for their durability and low maintenance cost. Local engineers have the knowledge to design and engineer these buses for local operating conditions.
In addition, a well-established after sales network for parts, maintenance, service and repairs for local buses already exists to ensure the success of the BRT system. “We also need to consider that many apprentices locally will be trained under this project in order to sustain an up-to-date, functional system” KAM noted.
KAM was emphatic that if we are to realize the desired goals in the Big 4 Agenda, it has to be demonstrated through commitment to the 40 per cent local content procurement regulation, especially in critical infrastructural projects and decisions. This will, in turn, encourage further investments in the sector by both local and foreign investors, increasing government revenue and more importantly offering productive jobs.
The first batch of the BRT vehicles are expected to arrive this month.
The government will launch five BRT corridors in Nairobi in a move aimed at reducing traffic congestion in the capital.
They are Limuru-Kangemi-CBD-Imara Daima –Athi River to Kitengela road, Rongai, Bomas-CBD-Ruiru-Thika- Kenol-Murang’a road, Tala-Njiru-Dandora–CBD-Ngong road, Mama Lucy Hospital-Donholm to the CBD while final line also referred as ‘Nyati’ will start from Ridgeways on Kiambu road to Balozi and end up in Imara Daima.