East Africa’s biggest port has grind to a near halt after over 1,000 imported cars were stuck following a system breakdown.

National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) system broke down last week on Monday, effectively grounding the vehicles and forcing owners from different parts of the country to camp in Mombasa for days awaiting their clearance.

“We have received several complaints from the importers following the breakdown and by Thursday if the system is not operational then we will have up to 2, 000 vehicles stuck there. So many vehicles have paid since last week but they are yet to be released,” said Peter Otieno, chair of Car Importers Association of Kenya (CIAK).

NTSA coast region officer in charge Zack Muema who said the system broke down on Monday linked the problem to e-Citizen, a government backed application for payments.

New vehicles leaving the port must have electronic stickers– referred to as third identifiers – affixed on vehicle windscreens and bears discrete and covert features of the vehicle registration, ownership and inspection details.

The application for the sticker is done through the Integrated Transport Management System (TIMS) hosted on the authority’s website at a fee of Sh700.

NTSA plans to have all registered motor vehicles in the country (over two million) compliant by the end of next year.

The electronic chips come loaded with each vehicle’s details, including the number plate, model and chassis number, which are then linked to a central database.

The data is expected to reveal the car insurance status and history of traffic offences, making it harder for drivers to get away with traffic breaches and help police recover stolen cars

The sticker is supposed to be valid for 10 years before one makes a replacement, but the importers have also raised complaints over the stickers durability.