A Truck manufacturing firm, Renault trucks has opened a local assembly plant in Thika as it eyes the East African market.
The plant set to create over 200 jobs was commissioned by Industrialization Principal Secretary (PS) Francis Owino in the presence of Renault Trucks President Bruno Blin, CMC Managing Director Collin Cordry and Thika MP Patrick Wainaina.
Cordry said CMCs in collaboration with Renault would position the country in the automotive industry and promote the Government’s manufacturing agenda.
This comes even as truck drivers and transporters expressed fears that the industry would become obsolete following an order to have port goods transported through the Standard Gauge Railway, which was later revoked by Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia.
However, the CMC Managing Director dismissed the fears saying the two would complement each other.
He said advancement in modern transportation would benefit the Kenyan citizen, and that such claims were unfounded.
“Truck operators will never lose business as a result of the rail transport. The railway line runs from Mombasa to Nairobi leaving several areas in need of truck services,” he said.
Owino said such investments would help the Government in implementing the ‘Big 4’ Development Agenda on manufacturing ratio to GDP from the current 7.7 to 15 percent by 2022.
The PS said the Government is in the process of coming up with a National Automotive Policy to give direction and impetus for the development of a vibrant automotive industry, and make the country an automotive manufacturing hub in the region.
“The Policy would address among other issues strong partnerships between the Government and investors in the industry, technology transfer, market creation through leasing, local content development plan, market expansion through harmonization of motor vehicle standards within the East Africa Community (EAC) and capping of the age at 5 years from the current 8 years for used vehicles imported into the country,” he said.
The automotive industry in the country is characterised by dominance of second hand imported vehicles, automotive assembling oriented towards passenger and commercial vehicles, lack of local full manufacture, and reliance on KD (Knocked Down) kits due to minimal local parts production,” he added.
Owino called on vehicle assembly companies to collaborate with local manufacturing entities such as the Numerical Machining Complex (NMC) and SMEs for assembling materials.
On his part, Wainaina said locals should get 40 per cent of the business generated from spare parts from Kenya Vehicle Manufacture (KVM).
The MP said the company should target manufacturing and not assembling to create more jobs to locals.
Renault Trucks has a presence in over 100 countries.
By Muoki Charles