The Kenya’s auto industry is attributing the high rate of traffic accidents on Kenyan roads to widespread of fake car parts.
Vehicle assemblers and private car dealers say that the importation of counterfeit automobile parts, now being termed as ‘alternatives’ is negatively impacting the sector and motorists’ safety, while at the same time affecting vehicle performance and should be blamed for the increased death toll on the roads.
According to National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) a whopping 2,988 lives were lost in 2015 alone.
While auto companies like General Motors East Africa (GMEA) and Toyota Kenya among others continue with efforts to combat counterfeiting through various remedies, they have admitted to still struggling to stop fake parts from flooding the market.
And once the counterfeit parts have entered the stream of commerce, Kenya Motor Industry Association (KMI) Chairperson Rita Kavashe says, “It is difficult for manufacturers to rescue the losses we sustain down the road.”
“The trade is affecting all car dealers, we (General Motors) are losing over 16 per cent of our total revenues to counterfeit and this figure is huge,” says Kavashe who adding that the company has joined forces with Anti Counterfeit Agency (ACA) to curb the practice however.
Ironically Rita, who is also GMEA’s managing director, admits of having little confidence in the agency to wipe out the trade.
Kavashe says that ‘soft counterfeiting’ which involves products bearing the manufacturer’s actual part numbers is the biggest fear for auto dealers. These products according to her may be identical to the real car part without ever having been authorised by the car maker.
Simba Corporation (Simba Corp) Executive director Dinesh Kotecha says the vice is mainly affecting the company’s car parts business and not the vehicle, saying some of the fake parts are being conceived in genuine packages.
“It’s affecting everyone and I don’t think Anti Counterfeit Agency is doing enough as it lacks the mechanism to solve the problem. Kenya Bureau of Standards is also not going for the details to determine genuine and counterfeit parts, and this is affecting a lot of people and putting a lot of lives at risk,” said Kotecha.
Counterfeit imports include a broad range of knockoff parts critical components such as fuel pumps, head lamps and brakes.
Experts like Moses Opallo, an independent car mechanic cum dealer in Nairobi’s Ngong Road, estimate that China is responsible for over 75 per cent of counterfeit car parts entering this country with Toyota Kenya being the most affected car brand, terming Nairobi’s Kirinyaga road as ‘dumpsite for the counterfeit parts.’
“China is manufacturing these cheap parts to meet the high demand from motorists who can’t afford the high cost of buying genuine parts. A few individuals and corporate firms have the capacity to buy genuine parts, so Chinese are bringing in cheap but quality parts,” he says.
Collectively it is estimated the industry is losing as much as Sh600million every month from spare parts business alone while the country is losing more than Sh69billion annually due to proliferation of contraband goods into the economy.
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