Government Wednesday said it would allow people to import second-hand vehicles with more than five years for another 12 months.
Treasury in September gazetted Statutory Instrument 154 of 2010 (Road Traffic Construction), which provided that vehicles that have been on the road for at least five years would not be allowed to enter the country after March 31 next year.
The statutory instrument also stipulated left-hand drive vehicles would not be registered after March 31 2011 and would be banned from Zimbabwe roads by December 31 2015.
But all vehicles would be obliged to have two reflective breakdown triangles per vehicle with serial numbers and the name and year of manufacture by December 1 this year.
Left-hand drive vehicles are considered technically unsuitable for Zimbabwe’s roads as they violate the country’s key road rule: “keep left”.
Transport ministry permanent secretary Pattison Mbiriri said government decided to extend the compliance deadline after noting that the notice period was too short, and this because of administrative delays encountered in passing the regulations.
“When we prepared the layman’s draft we gave the Attorney-General’s Office, but the process took longer and took up part of the notice period,” Mbiriri said at a breakfast meeting organised by the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC).
“We agreed in the ministry that there is need to give the public time and 12 months will be ample time to tell people that this is coming.
“We are trying to get these things out of our way as soon as we can.
“We have not submitted yet to the Attorney-General ’s Office, but our laymen are working and preparing the layman’s draft for submission to the Attorney-General for improvements.”
ZNCC lobbied government for the extension of the compliance deadline on behalf of its members, arguing that the costs would multiply the financial difficulties of industry, currently struggling to recapitalise.
In its submission to government, ZNCC pointed out that the bulk of haulage and delivery trucks used by industry were left-hand drive.
A survey by Saxum Actuarial Pvt Ltd showed that the country has 3 000 left-hand drive vehicles, and 2 000 of these are from the Transport Association of Zimbabwe
ZNNC also noted that it costs as much as $39 000 to convert the vehicles to a right-hand drive system, as this service is currently not available in the country.
Companies would either have to take the vehicles out of the country or would import of the necessary parts to have them redone locally.
ZNCC members proposed that the ban of left-hand drive vehicles be extended by at least 20 years because of the compliance cost issue.
Mbiriri explained that the regulation was passed to protect the country after observing that as it was being used as a dumping ground for vehicles that are old and unroadworthy, whose influx increased after dollarisation.
He said ban of left-hand driven vehicles was meant to reduce road accidents.