The illegal trade is estimated to cost the government billions in lost revenue as the perpetrators avoid remitting their dues to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
The vehicles find their way into Kenya from neighbouring countries and even as far as UK as a 2019 investigation unraveled 16 luxury vehicles marked as household goods in 20-foot containers and destined for Uganda were intercepted at the Port of Mombasa.
Just like how the revenue body destroys the other contraband goods such as confiscated rice, sugar and alcohol, the luxury vehicles are not spared either.
Watch the video of their destruction here:
In 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta oversaw the destruction of 149 contraband vehicles which included top-of-the-range Mercedes Benz, Range Rovers and Land Rovers.
The cars were estimated to be worth over Ksh71 million with some having number plates belonging to other countries.
The destruction of the contraband merchandise was done at the East African Portland Cement Grounds in Athi-River, Machakos County.
Speaking at the time, Uhuru stated that the ultimate goal of the war against contrabands and counterfeits was to save millions of jobs for the youth which are being lost through the illegal entry of cheap goods into the country, thereby killing local industries.
He marveled as an excavator trampled the vehicles, which he noted symbolised his government’s commitment to the war against corruption, impunity, contraband, counterfeits, and all forms of economic crimes.
“Counterfeits and contraband goods are among the various economic crimes that continue to undermine Kenya’s socio-economic transformation by denying the country the much-needed revenue through tax evasion as well as threatening the lives and wellbeing of the public through exposure to harmful products,” he stated.
The NTSA disclosed that smugglers had been using the TIMS platform to generate fake documents for the stolen vehicles (mostly luxury cars) that are then sold to unsuspecting Kenyans.
In the most bizarre of cases, even vehicles attached to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Uganda counterpart Yoweri Museveni have fallen victim to the smuggling syndicates.
In 2018, a vehicle attached to Uganda President Yoweri Museveni was stolen only to be found and recovered in Kenya a year later.