Peculiar Kenyans buy numbers, not new cars


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Some years back, a corporate honcho remarked that Kenyans’ have peculiar calling habits. That did not go down well with most of us. We felt insulted by the very company that we were spending lots of cash on so that we could be in touch with family and friends.
But if the revelation by Car Importers Association of Kenya is anything to go by, we have remained peculiarly to our Kenyan identity not only when it comes to calling habits, but also when buying motor vehicles. Dealers of imported used motor vehicles are not a jubilant lot.
They recently petitioned the government to introduce a four digit registration system, for more units to be registered on a particular series. They want to be allowed to clear vehicles from the port before processing their registration numbers. The importers argue that registration numbers are getting replaced so fast due to the high number of vehicles being imported, and this affects prices.
In a memorandum to the Kenya Revenue Authority commissioner general, the players poured their hearts out, whining that they are incurring losses because they are registering vehicles before selling them. According to Peter Otieno, the chair of the importers association, the current three-digit system allows 23,976 units to be registered within one and a half months.
That system, he says, brings new numbers into the market even before the old numbers are cleared at the port, and that pushes down prices of vehicles with “older” numbers. So how does it work? Let us call him Ken. He needs to buy a car. He sees a looker on the road and makes a mental note to visit car yards to familiarise himself with the model.

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