NAIROBI, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's car imports declined by an estimated 50 percent to 65,000 in 2020 compared to 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic disruption, an industry official said on Thursday.
Peter Otieno, chairman of the Car Importers Association of Kenya (CIAK), told Xinhua on the phone that Kenya imported approximately 130,000 vehicles in 2019.
"Between March and November 2020 there was a scarcity of ships to ferry vehicles into Kenya and this led to a drastic reduction of car imports last year," Otieno said.
He revealed that an economic downturn in Kenya also affected the demand for vehicles in the country.
According to the trade association, imports account for over 80 percent of the cars on Kenyan roads.
Otieno added that about 90 percent of imports are used cars with Japan, Britain, Singapore and South Korea as the major source for passenger cars and Thailand as a key source for pickups.
He noted that China is now emerging as a significant source for commercial trucks and buses, noting that the shipping industry was one of the most affected sectors by the outbreak of COVID-19.
"Once a shipping crew member tested positive for COVID-19, the entire crew had to be quarantined and the ship faced difficulty in sailing to its destination," Otieno said.
He revealed that shipping delays led to a backlog of vehicles waiting to be brought into the east African nation.
According to the government, only vehicles that are eight years or newer can be imported and registered in the country.
"So, last year vehicle importers were rushing to ensure that automobiles that were first registered in 2013 were able to reach Kenyan shores by Dec. 31, 2020," Otieno noted.