The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has allowed imported vehicles to exit the port of Mombasa without number plates as supply hitch persists at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.

The taxman said it allowed imported cars to leave the port with logbooks and a third identifier stickers, which are pasted on windscreens.

The exemption has been extended to locally assembled vehicles.

About 10,000 imported second-hand vehicles have been lying at container freight stations (CSFs) in Mombasa as owners are charged between Sh2,000 and Sh6,000 daily for delayed clearance.

Kenya registers an average of 9,175 cars in a month, underlying the supply hitch that has seen importers lose millions of shillings.

The country is also facing a shortage of logbooks, further compounding the problem of clearance. The shortage of the plates is attributed to lack of raw materials amid an increase in demand for car registration.

“We have had discussions with KRA and an importer is required to produce an e-sticker and logbooks as proof that the vehicle is duly registered,” Francis Meja, director-general at the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) told the Business Daily on Wednesday.

“This also applies to new vehicles assembled locally. So long as the vehicle is registered, issued with an e-sticker and a logbook, it can leave the local assembly point,” said Mr Meja.

The stickers bear discrete features of vehicle registration, ownership and inspection details. Commercial vehicle owners pay Sh700 to acquire an e-sticker that also carries details like the chassis number.

It is mandatory for imported vehicles to be fitted with number plates before leaving the port.

The rule is meant to check tax evasion through dumping in the local market cars meant for landlocked Uganda and Rwanda.

Car importers said early this week the shortage had hit them hard as they were forced to incur storage charges at the port amid cash flow hiccups due to delays as some are servicing loans.

The storage charges are based on the volume of vehicles and the number of days they take at the Mombasa port or at container freight stations.

“They NTSA officials at the port must move with speed and sign the logbooks to fasten release of our vehicles,” said Car Importers Association of Kenya chairman Peter Otieno.