2nd-hand car ban reviewed

Government finally bowed down to pressure from car dealers, indefinitely suspending the ban on used car imports that are five-years-old.

Nicholas Goche
Nicholas Goche

Addressing journalist in the capital on this week, Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche said government had decided to lift it until the economy improves after consultation on the proposed ban.

“We looked at the merits and demerits. We consulted widely on the issue and we thought the motor industry would have improved as well and producing more vehicles, but we realised that improvement has been slight,” Goche said.

He said the liquidity crisis in the country had made it difficult for prospective local car manufacturers to access fund to buy cars as well as prospective car owners.

“We had also hoped that banks and other financial institutions would make money available for capitalisation because there is still a liquidity crunch, industry, commerce and individuals do not have the money,” he said.

Some of the regulations whose deadline end next month include the prohibition of registration of left-hand vehicles, the need for headlamps to be fitted on heavy motor vehicles and the prohibition of registration or use of vehicles whose width exceeds 2,65 metres.

Other regulations such as the need to carry breakdown triangles, reflectors, jack, spare wheels among others came into effect in July this year, while government has allowed left-hand vehicles already in the country to run their full lifespan.

“Therefore, all these facts were taken into consideration during consultations because the situation hasn't improved. We have been persuaded to suspend the aspect of the S.I (statutory instrument) to do with the importation of second hand vehicles until there is an improvement of the economy,” Goche said.

Zimbabwe is among major importers of used Japanese cars in Southern Africa.

Small used cars imported from Japan cost around US$5 000, including duty if directly imported and around US$6 000 if bought from an importer.

Most people cannot afford new imports or new locally-assembled vehicles.

The cheapest locally-assembled brand new car costs over US$20 000.

Used cars from Zimbabwe and South Africa are also expensive as the owners demand more on disposal.

Barely a month before the announcement government had said s there will be no further extension to the October 31 deadline banning the import of vehicles more than five-years-old as sufficient time is said to have been given to all motorists and car dealers.

Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Secretary, Partson Mbiriri, had said the statutory instrument giving effect to the regulations was a bitter pill that the country should swallow to avert road carnage.

Mbiriri said many lives have been lost due to road carnage. This, he said, prompted government to take decisive action. “I believe this is one bitter pill we have to take as a nation to avert the menace on the roads. We believe we have given people ample warning and I am not aware of any intention to extend the deadline,” said Mbiriri.

Mbiriri said the regulations were in conformity with Sadc harmonisation of vehicles standards and came as a result of wide consultation. Mbiriri said Angola pegged three years as the cut-off period for vehicle imports, while South Africa banned imports of second-hand vehicles.

According to Mbiriri, the local motor industry would never flourish as long as the country was allowing imports, a scenario that has seen Zimbabwe become a market for second-hand vehicles from countries that make cars.

However, the importation of Left-Hand-Drive vehicles will not be allowed from November 1 this year.

No Left-Hand-Drive vehicle will be allowed into the country from next month.

But those already in the country and those to be imported by October 31 will be allowed to continue plying the country's roads until they outlive their economic lifespan.

The new arrangement will be provided for in the amended Statutory Instrument to be gazetted soon.

Goche said government had also rescinded its earlier decision to force the change of Left-Hand-Drive vehicles to Right-Hand-Drive by December 31, 2015.

“As a ministry made concessions that those Left-Hand-Drive vehicles already in the country remain and live out their economic life.

“From November 1, we are going to restrict the importation of Left-Hand-Drive vehicles whether new or old but for those which are already here, owners won't be forced to change them to right-hand,” he said.

Government, he said, would continue monitoring the economy to see when it could be viable to effect the ban.

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