Tanzania turns to Kenya for high-capacity buses as Kenya turns to South Africa to import the same

Isuzu Motors is on its way to building the first 80-person capacity buses for use under the BRT programme for Tanzania’s government.

  • Tanzania has hired Kenya’s passenger bus body-builder Labh Singh Harnam Singh (LSHS) to build high-capacity buses for its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) services.
  • Kenya which recently adopted the same  BRT services prepares to import the same high-capacity buses from South Africa,  a distance of 2924.18 km or  1578.93 nautical miles.
  • Isuzu Motors is on its way to building the first 80-person capacity buses for use under the BRT programme for Tanzania’s government.
  • According to Kenya Bus Body Builders Association (KBBBA) chairman, Kenya's move goes against President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda, especially the manufacturing pillar.

LSHS managing director Daniel Maundu has revealed that the firm was working on the first order after being contracted by President Magufuli’s government.

“Kenya is planning to import the high capacity buses yet Tanzania, which initially imported buses from China, has turned to us to use our 70-year plus experience to build them the buses,” said Mr Maundu who doubles as the Kenya Bus Body Builders Association (KBBBA) chairman.

The chairman decried the Kenyan move saying the plan to import fully built units went against President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda, especially the manufacturing pillar, where the government pledged to provide incentives to support local companies in a bid to generate jobs, revenue and hence higher taxes.

For her troubles, Kenya will pay Sh500 million ($5m) to import 30 buses, a figure way higher than if it had decided to buy the buses at home not to mention effectively exporting jobs to the more advanced economy even as her population wallow in joblessness.

“Our work benefits many companies that manufacture various products from batteries to springs, gaskets, lubricants, iron bars and sheets among other items.

“It is a vibrant supply chain that if activated could directly benefit 6,000 people employed across the industries,” he said.

Coming just months after Kenya’s general elections where prolonged electioneering period negatively affected businesses, transferring the much needed business to South Africa is equal as government telling local companies to close down and go home.

The chairman noted that most auto-assemblers and bodybuilders in the country were cutting staff due to reduced business as a way of easing operational costs.

“We have capacity to meet any demand within Kenya and have built adequate factories and manpower over the past decades. Kenya has three motor vehicle assemblers and 12 body builders and the plan to import fully built buses will deny us the much-needed business especially after a tough 2017,” he said.

According to Mr Maundu the firms have already built 104 capacity buses, currently being piloted on Kenyan roads, and had in the past been engaged in building double decker buses that traverse local roads.

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