Bus, truck operators irked by new tax

Theres anger and consternation in the transport sector, as the Kenya government placed harsher taxes in a bid to boost revenues hit by political violence early this year.

Commuters look for buses in Nairobi\'s Tom Mboya street.

Matatus on Nairobi’s Tom Mboya street. A new tax will result in higher inspection fees for matatu and truck owners.

Inspection fees for public transport vehicles and trucks will now be pegged on weight and carrying capacity, according to a report in the East African Standard. Previously, the inspection fee was a standard Shs1,000 (US$16). Now, a 14-seater minivan (or matatu) is expected to pay Shs11,000 ($180) as an annual inspection fee. Trucks will pay Shs1,500 per tonne. This means a 26-wheel truck with a carrying capacity of 40 tonnes will have to pay Shs60,000 ($984).

Majority of matatus are owned by small scale operators living in slums and who cannot pay Shs11,000 at short notice. Commercial truckers will simply pass the costs to their clients, with possible consequences on the prices of consumer goods.

The tax is described as an “advance tax,” meaning it has to be paid before the inspection officer begins to look at your vehicle. Passenger and commercial vehicles in Kenya must be inspected at least once a year.

Matatu and truck owners say they government has ambushed them with the tax. There was little publicity about the changes and most transporters had not budgeted for the new tax.

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