Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Zimbabwe government bans used car imports

By Kholwani Nyathi

The government has banned the importation of second-hand vehicles as part of a raft of new measures aimed at arresting the carnage on the country’s roads.

According to Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use) Regulations published in the government gazette of September 17, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development is also phasing out left-hand vehicles.

The regulations that will also hit hard owners of unroadworthy vehicles and cripple local car dealers come into effect on March 1 2011. Vehicles older than five years will be affected and the move will push the price of locally assembled cars beyond the reach of many.

The statutory instrument says in part: “No person shall import any vehicle for registration and use on any road in Zimbabwe if the year of manufacture from the country of origin is more than five years.”

“Provided that this shall not apply to any motor vehicle registered in Zimbabwe before the 31st of March, 2011.”

Used Japanese cars (pictured) have become popular with Zimbabweans over the years as they are cheaper than those assembled locally. Previous attempts by government to raise import duty on second hand vehicles have been met with a lot of resistance.

Last month, Environment and Natural Resources minister Francis Nhema caused a stir when he proposed the ban on the importation of used vehicles in order to “save lives and protect the environment.” Nhema said the majority of the cars had been banned on the roads in their countries of origin and were being dumped on Zimbabwe.

Tough regulations on emissions force Japanese car owners to replace old vehicles with newer models. The new regulations in Zimbabwe go further to say: “No person shall drive on a road any motor vehicle registered in terms of the Vehicle Registration and Licensing Act (Chapter 13:14)  for the first time in Zimbabwe on or after the 31st of March, 2011, if the steering wheel of the vehicle is on the left hand side.”

However, left-hand drives are not very popular in Zimbabwe. Partson Mbiriri, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development last month said government was considering banning the left-hand driven vehicles because they contributed to the high carnage on the country’s roads.

“Government is considering banning all left-hand-driven vehicles because it has become clear that they are one of the major causes of accidents on the roads,” Mbiriri said at the launch of the Global Road Safety week. Government has also gone further to ban the use of tints on windows and tightened regulations governing the carrying of passengers.

For example owners of light vehicles other than public service vehicles will not be allowed to carry more than five passengers “unless a seating width of at least 380 mm and 300 mm is allowed for the driver and every passenger respectively, measured along the rear of such a seat level.” The Zimbabwe Standard