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Kenya

Not an assembly line

There’s no import tax to pay on motorcycles under 250cc, that’s why there are so many of them. The motorcycles arrive from China in bits. The larger components (frames, fuel tank and wheels) are packed into cheap plywood boxes, edged with metal protective strips. Other smaller pieces arrive in cardboard boxes.

When I pass the shop, there are usually a couple of men putting the bikes together. Although they may share the same bench, they assemble individual machines. Not exactly bespoke, but made by hand. One experienced worker told me that it just takes a couple of hours. He doesn’t need to refer to the instructions anymore.

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The bikes are not that complicated. The electrical connections just snap together. I looked at the accompanying plastic package of nuts, bolts, washers and bits, and asked him if he ever finished a bike and there were some bits left over. He just smiled at me.

 

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The finished article