By Thupeyo Muleya
The Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe (RPAZ) is setting up shop at the country’s ports of entry to enforce new Government health requirements on vehicle imports from Japan.
Vehicles imported from Japan now require prior clearance to ensure they are not contaminated by radiation from the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant following an earthquake and the accident was rated 7 on the INES.
The measure, which may hit imports of second-hand vehicles is to ensure that affected vehicles are decontaminated.
Such health regulations are generic, applying to any country with a serious fairly recent nuclear station accident, but Japan is the only country at present affected.
RPAZ spokesperson Mr Chamunorwa Murava said they will soon dispatch inspectors to check on conformity issues at Beitbridge Border Post.
A team to carry-out feasibility studies at Chirundu Border Post will be availed and the team will also move to Plumtree.
“Government on November 27 gazetted Statutory Instrument 281 of 2020, which compels those importing vehicles from any country that will have experienced size four plus nuclear disaster to adhere to a new set of rules,” said Mr Murava.
“In this case, we have the Fukushima disaster that occurred in Japan in 2011, where most of Zimbabwe vehicle imports come from,” he said.
“So we are now operationalising that legal instrument at Beitbridge, which will be our pilot port of entry. This will be rolled out to all borders in due course.”
Mr Murava said the vehicles will be tested for radioactive debris.
The Herald understands that at least 200 mostly pre-owned vehicles from Japan arrive through Beitbridge daily.
“The idea is to give people assurance that they are safe in terms of protection from radiation,” he said.
“You are aware there are concerns on diseases related to radiation. We just want to make sure that the comfort of knowing the car is inspected and is safe.”
Most diseases related to or caused by radiation exposure include all cancers, non-malignant thyroid nodular disease, parathyroid adenoma, posterior sub-capsular cataracts, and tumours of the brain and central nervous system.
When vehicles arrive at the transit-shed, he said the authority will inspect them and issue clearance certificates to importers on site.
According to the legal instrument, importers will pay US$10 for contamination inspection for light motor vehicles and minibuses and US$20 for buses, heavy vehicles, haulage trucks and trailers.
If de-contamination of vehicles is needed, importers of light motor vehicle and minibuses will pay US$50 while such a service for buses, heavy vehicles, haulage trucks and trailers is pegged at US$100.
The fees can be paid in Zimbabwe dollars at the prevailing rate of the day. The Herald.