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Used car imports clampdown looms

 

Minister-of-Trade and Industry Joshua Setipa
Minister-of-Trade and Industry Joshua Setipa

Bereng Mpaki

THE government is going ahead with plans to impose new vehicle importing requirements in a bid to manage the influx of unroadworthy second-hand cars.

Trade and Industry Minister Joshua Setipa yesterday told the Sunday Express the new regulations would be in place by September this year, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Under the regulations, vehicle importers would need to obtain certificates of roadworthiness from exporting countries before they could come to Lesotho.

“We intend to issue a notice in the coming days informing the public that the conditions for importing second-hand vehicles are changing,” said Mr Setipa.

“So far, the necessary preparations for the new framework are ongoing, and if they go along as planned, the new regulations should kick in by September this year.”

He said the used vehicles had resulted in traffic jams in urban centres and also caused accidents since some of them were not roadworthy.

“Most of the second-hand cars being dumped into our market at such low prices as $300 (about M4 178) should not be on our roads because they pose a danger to their occupants,” the minister said.

“We are not against people buying cars, but we are only concerned about their safety when using those vehicles. We want to ensure that only roadworthy vehicles in their countries of origin will be allowed into Lesotho.

“For every import permit we will issue, it should be accompanied by a certificate of roadworthiness of the vehicle from the exporting country. Before the vehicle leaves the country of origin it must have that certificate.”

Mr Setipa said they would also block importation of worn-out tyres, since they were to blame for many accidents.

Asked why the government was not leaving the inspection of vehicle road-worthiness to the Department of Transport, he said the agency inspected vehicles already in the country, while the new import requirements sought to address the condition of vehicles before they entered Lesotho.

The ministry’s Information Officer, Lihaelo Nkaota, also told this paper they would compel car dealers to erect showrooms to display their vehicles.

“The ministry is going to enforce a law that requires car dealers to have proper showrooms as stipulated in the Trading Enterprises Regulations of 1999,” Ms Nkaota said.

For their part, used-vehicle importers told the Sunday Express the new requirements would deny Basotho the opportunity to buy affordable cars. They also warned the country would lose a lot of revenue that is collected in importing vehicles.

“Given the state of the economy, most Basotho can only afford to buy imported second-hand vehicles. However, the impending regulations may deprive Basotho of that opportunity because the cost of importing vehicles is likely to go up,” said a car dealer who requested anonymity.

 

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