Malaysian Bus and Coach Body Builder Gemilang has quietly exited the East African Market.
On these shores, the Gemilang bus bodies were mounted on mostly Scania frames by the Associated Vehicle Assembler (AVA) of Kenya.
But recently the Scania East Africa arm confirmed that the Marcopolo buses and coaches are now being built in Kenya by the same AVA outfit.
AVA is now assembling Marcopolo, and the engineering company seems to have taken off the gloves on Gemilang after introducing the series 2 built onto Scania F360 Drivetrain.
A Scania Marcopolo G7 bus was the first such coach to roll off AVA factories and was bought by the Kenyan transport company, Ena Coaches, a move which fuelled heated online debate between Kenyan and Tanzanian fans of buses.
With such development, East African transporters in Kenya, Tanzania and other neighbouring countries will no longer be subjected to importing the Marcopolo buses from overseas but procure them right here in the region.
Previously bus operators in especially Tanzania, used to import the Marcopolo buses built on Scania and Mercedes Benz Chassis from either South-Africa or as far as Brazil.
The current Scania-based Marcopolo models famous in East Africa are the Viaggio G7, many of which feature automatic transmission.
Marcopolo buses entered the East African Transport sector in 2001 when the Royal Bus Company added the Andare models to its fleet.
Later the Scandinavian Express, also operating from Dar-es-salaam purchased several Marcopolo Andares while the Hood bus firm of Morogoro acquired the mostly Marcopolo Torinos and a few Andares before the company folded up.
Major passenger transporting firms like Dar Express and Kilimanjaro Express known to be Scania loyalists have been floating the Marcopolo series of buses including Andare, Viaggio and Paradiso models in their fleets.
However, recently Dar Express also joined the Chinese Buses bandwagon by adding two Zhongtong Climber coaches to its aging convoy.
Many Tanzanian companies have of late been acquiring Sino Made buses coming in the form of Higer, Yutong, Golden Dragon and Zhongtong equipment among others.
Kenya, with its vibrant bus body building industry, is on the other hand choosing to stay away from the ready-made coaches from overseas.
Kenyan Bus body building entities such as Malva, Masters, Banbros, Labhsons and Labh Singh Harnam Singh (LSHS), among others have been competing to design spellbinding coaches such that many transporters in the country opt to order tailor-made equipment to suit their needs and trade.
The body fabricators have been building their designs onto MAN, Isuzu, Nissan, Scania and Mercedes Benz Chassis.
For those who prefer overseas design but made at their door steps the Association Vehicle Assembly (AVA) have been catering to their needs through the production of Malaysian Gemilang coaches.
AVA, according to Scania East Africa, are now building the Marcopolo Viaggio G7 buses and already Ena Coaches are putting them on Kenyan roads.