In 2020, a court case revealed how the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KeBS) had compromised the health and wealth of Kenyans by associating with a rogue Japanese firm known as Quality Inspection Services Inc Japan (QISJ).
QISJ had been banned from engaging in motor vehicle business by the Japan Harbor Transportation Association (JHTA) in a dated August 27, 2015.
The reason for the ban was simple, QISJ had engaged in poor inspection of radioactive substances in used vehicles that were being sold worldwide.
In March 2011, Japan had suffered its worst nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daichi power plant. The effects were that the waste and radioactive materials affected most things and therefore made radiation inspection critical especially in used cars being sold abroad.
The radiation measurement is taken before vehicles are handled by harbour workers. That way, only vehicles that satisfy the standard radiation values proceeds to the export procedures.
Radiation measurement is required for all used vehicles to be exported from Japan.
But in corrupt-ridden Kenya, KeBS and the QISJ saw an opportunity to cut corners.
Sh2.5 billion scandal
The second issue, that reached the corridors of justice was the additional Sh4000 charged on every vehicle imported into Kenya by QISJ.
KeBS had contracted QISJ as the only entity mandated to conduct inspection and verification of all vehicles imported into the country.
EACC OFFICERS arrest Kebs boss Bernard Njiraini amid investigation on bribery at the agency. pic.twitter.com/yhcDLPRsbY
— Nation Breaking News (@NationBreaking) July 2, 2020
On May 26 2020, a private Kenyan car importer, George Odhiambo filed a case at the High Court, accusing the QISJ of overcharging Kenyans during the inspection process, arguing that the burden of the extra cost was eventually passed to the consumers.
“The first respondent (Quality Inspection Services Inc. Japan Limited) has been overcharging exporters and importers and Kenyans and unfairly withholding more fees than that contracted for”
KEBS admitted that it lacks the capacity to inspect all vehicles being imported into the country. – Reports before National Assembly Trade Committee
“The first respondent charges from its website, and still overcharges consumers when the current exchange rates for each subject country are applied against the contracted currency,” court papers filed by Odhiambo’s lawyer Andrew Ombwayo read in part.
Mr Odhiambo, questioned the legality of QISJ operating as a monopoly in Kenya, giving them the autonomy he claims they have used to siphon billions over the years.
“The fact that the extra charged levies by the first respondent are passed to the consumers violates the consumers’ right to the protection of their economic interest.
“The loss is likely to be more considering that a Parliamentary progress report of the special audit report dated July 10, 2019, on procurement of pre-export verification of conformity to standard tender no Kebs/T019/2017-2020 had in page 13 placed the figure of motor vehicles imported into Kenya in the years 20150-19 at 409,070 used vehicles,” Odhiambo says in the court papers.
QISJ had charged an extra Ksh4,000 extra fee charged on each imported car for over six years.
It is KeBS boss Njiraini that reportedly lifted the lid on the loss of over Sh2.5 billion by importers through the overcharging.
“Overcharges curb importation because the prospective importer is cut off or dissuaded by expensive fees thus increasing cost of business in Kenya,” Njiraini’s statement read in part
However, sources say he received a bribe of Sh50 million to stop investigations.
Where has EACC reached with its investigations?
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