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Illegal Steering Conversions in Dubai

Germany is Original Left Hand Drive Land. Find LHD cars at

Illegal Steering Conversions in Dubai
Investigation reveals some of the vehicles were originally left-hand drive but were changed to right-hand in unauthorised garages in Dubai. While some counties have imported ambulances directly others have leased them from the Kenya Red Cross at an average cost of Sh600,000 a month for every vehicle. Some county governments may have been duped into buying ambulances whose cost and safety have been called into question. Inquiries by the Sunday Nation indicate that some of the ambulances were converted from left-hand drive (LHD) to right-hand drive (RHD) in unlicensed garages in Dubai after which they were shipped to Kenya. The investigations point an accusing finger at unscrupulous county government officials, who in some cases have been colluding with businessmen in Dubai, to buy LHD vehicles that are much cheaper and converting them to RHD. According to a motor dealer in Dubai who did not wish to be named, the converted LHD to RHD ambulances are cheaper by an average of $20,000 (Sh1.7 million) per unit. This is the amount corrupt county officials and unscrupulous dealers are said to be targeting for each ambulance at the expense of the taxpayer’s safety. In some cases, county governments have bought into the scheme without getting full information from the crooked officials that the vehicles were cheaper than claimed and could be death traps. Such conversions are a highly technical undertaking, often requiring expert mechanical expertise. A motor dealer in Dubai, who responded to our questions on condition of anonymity, said the “unscrupulous business” was against the industry’s ethics and laws. “We have been approached by customers or car traders from East Africa to supply left-hand drive-converted vehicles to right-hand drive from the Middle East market. But there are no authorised dealers for conversion in Dubai, and it is done in shacks or garages,” said our source. The Sunday Nation obtained pictures of some of the ambulances which are still in Dubai waiting to be shipped to Mombasa on behalf of some counties. We cannot publish the names of the counties for legal reasons. The chassis numbers of the ambulances provided to us showed they were LHD and not RHD vehicles. Most garages in the part of Dubai where Kenyan officials have been buying the ambulances are run by Pakistan and Afghanistan nationals and can be likened to Nairobi’s Kariobangi Light Industries that is notorious for counterfeit goods. RED FLAG On Thursday, Toyota Kenya raised the red flag in a newspaper advertisement, warning buyers of the dangers of using vehicles — particularly ambulances — that have been illegally converted from LHD to RHD. “Don’t let your eyes deceive you. Is your converted vehicle genuine and legal?” read the advertisement. Since most ambulances imported were Toyota Land Cruisers, the company’s local dealership has expressed concern on the importation of illegally converted vehicles. “We are very concerned about this information and are following up,” said Toyota Kenya Group Marketing Manager Mary Chege.