Why there is an Urgent Need for NTSA’s Efficiency in Kenya’s Motorcycle Industry

Today, I am extreme­ly unhap­py, as the motor­cy­cle indus­try, a cor­ner­stone of Kenya’s mobil­i­ty sec­tor and a key employ­er of youth, faces an unprece­dent­ed cri­sis. As the Chair­per­son of the Motor­cy­cle Assem­blers Asso­ci­a­tion of Kenya (MAAK), I find myself com­pelled to pub­licly high­light the crit­i­cal chal­lenges caused by inef­fi­cien­cies with­in the Nation­al Trans­port and Safe­ty Author­i­ty (NTSA). This comes after a pro­longed and con­cert­ed team effort to address these issues. I want to make it clear that this is noth­ing per­son­al as I hold the indi­vid­u­als work­ing at NTSA in very high esteem.

The indus­try’s per­for­mance has plunged, evi­denced by the Kenya Bureau of Sta­tis­tics’ data. In 2023, motor­cy­cle reg­is­tra­tions dras­ti­cal­ly fell to 45,280 from 131,513 in 2022 and 285,203 in 2021, a stag­ger­ing 67% decline. While such decline is not entire­ly relat­ed to NTSA and their trou­bles, the down­turn is not just a sta­tis­ti­cal con­cern but a reflec­tion of sys­temic issues affect­ing livelihoods.

The NTSA’s tran­si­tion from the TIMS to the E‑Citizen plat­form has been marred with obsta­cles, severe­ly inhibit­ing our mem­bers’ abil­i­ty to secure motor­cy­cle allo­ca­tions and make sales. The Boda boda rid­ers are par­tic­u­lar­ly hard hit, unable to trans­fer own­er­ship upon the sale of their bikes, a sit­u­a­tion echoed by finan­cial insti­tu­tions who are frus­trat­ed, unable to fund buy­ers with­out these own­er­ship trans­fers. For us, the assem­blers, motor­cy­cles cru­cial for dai­ly trans­port and liveli­hoods, remain unsold due to unprece­dent­ed reg­is­tra­tion delays. This inef­fi­cien­cy trig­gers a domi­no effect, impact­ing con­sumers and the entire indus­try at a time when our econ­o­my is desperate.

The NTSA’s delayed response in pro­cess­ing reg­is­tra­tions has endan­gered the sur­vival of our motor­cy­cle assem­bly indus­try, an indus­try that has assem­bled at least 2.16 mil­lion motor­cy­cles in the last decade. These motor­cy­cles are the back­bone of the Boda Boda Sec­tor, employ­ing 2.5 mil­lion youths. Accord­ing to MAAK, each of these youths sup­ports an aver­age of six fam­i­ly mem­bers, mean­ing our indus­try under­pins the liveli­hoods of 15 mil­lion Kenyans. Our spe­cif­ic sec­tor, cur­rent­ly employ­ing about 4,000 indi­vid­u­als, is in urgent need of robust pro­tec­tion. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, bureau­crat­ic inef­fi­cien­cies that sti­fle eco­nom­ic growth and under­mine investor con­fi­dence under­score the gov­ern­men­t’s cru­cial, yet unmet, role in indus­try sup­port, as seen in their dis­ap­point­ing inac­tion despite our repeat­ed appeals.

The motor­cy­cle indus­try is more than a busi­ness sec­tor, it is a vital part of Kenya’s socio-eco­nom­ic fab­ric, offer­ing mobil­i­ty solu­tions and employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties, espe­cial­ly to the youth. As we strive to align with the Bot­tom-Up Eco­nom­ic Trans­for­ma­tion Agen­da and con­tribute to Vision 2030’s GDP aspi­ra­tions, the urgency for NTSA to address these chal­lenges is crit­i­cal. Must we wait for NTSA’s inac­tion to dri­ve its aggriev­ed cus­tomers to the streets in protest?

As you read my arti­cle, NTSA’s inef­fi­cien­cies in han­dling the sys­tem tran­si­tion have led to a mul­ti­tude of issues, includ­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in obtain­ing allo­ca­tions, the inabil­i­ty to search for reg­is­tra­tion using chas­sis num­bers, and chal­lenges with view­ing appli­ca­tions and pro­cess­ing trans­ac­tions. These tech­ni­cal hitch­es have caused sig­nif­i­cant delays and unnec­es­sary con­fu­sion, lead­ing to a decrease in sales and a loss of trust among con­sumers and indus­try play­ers. We appre­ci­ate that NTSA has inter­nal chal­lenges as they silent­ly whis­per which includes sec­ond­ed offi­cers from oth­er depart­ments whose alle­giance lie else­where but surely?

Let’s face it, more than pas­sive gov­er­nance is need­ed here. The NTSA’s seem­ing­ly most inef­fi­cient oper­at­ing sys­tem has not only impact­ed motor­cy­cle assem­blers but also the wider Boda Boda sec­tor that sup­ports mil­lions. In these chal­leng­ing times, proac­tive sup­port and effi­cient poli­cies are cru­cial for the growth and con­tri­bu­tion of busi­ness­es to the economy.

Urgent reform and action with­in gov­ern­ment bod­ies such as NTSA are cru­cial for our econ­o­my and peo­ple’s wel­fare. I sug­gest that NTSA be prompt­ly sup­port­ed to resolve its issues so that we halt the sec­tor’s decline. Deal­ing with the sys­tem is sim­pler than fac­ing a hun­gry peo­ple. This moment calls for gov­ern­ment agen­cies to prove their ded­i­ca­tion to Kenya’s eco­nom­ic growth and busi­ness sup­port. If you think that I am unhap­py, wait till you hear car indus­try’s griev­ances against NTSA. Aise Tume­cho­ka! Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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