The government has indefinitely suspended the ban on the importation of second-hand vehicles mooted two years ago.
Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Nicholas Goche told Parliament yesterday the decision to ban old vehicles had been arrived at after realising the need to safeguard the local motor industry from unfair competition brought about by cheap imports.
Goche told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development, chaired by Kwekwe Central MP Blessing Chebundo, that government intended to allow local car manufacturer Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries to recover from decades of economic depression.
“When the ban was introduced the expectations were that the economy would improve fast and there would be capacity utilisation of industry, especially the motor industry and that Willowvale would be in a position to assemble smaller vehicles that would be affordable,” said Goche.
“We also looked at whether the ordinary workers would be able to purchase the vehicles assembled here and after consultations with stakeholders and government leaders, we felt there was no need to continue with that statutory instrument and I suspended it indefinitely until our fortunes in the economy improved and salaries improved.”
Goche said it was also found to be unfair to ban left-hand driven vehicles that were already in the country.
“There is no point in putting that kind of economic burden on importers or operators of left-hand driven vehicles,” he said.
Goche said after last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, there was fear that vehicles affected by radiation might be dumped in Zimbabwe.
“The fear of radiation is there. A Zimbabwean who lives in Japan wrote to us and said that danger existed and we need mechanisms to examine these vehicles being imported to ensure there is no radiation, otherwise a number of people would be affected.
“I have referred the matter to the Secretary of Industry and Commerce to ensure vehicles imported to Zimbabwe are free from radiation. It is a serious fear and we have to be alert,” said Goche.
The minister, however, said requirements such as having fire extinguishers and red reflective triangles in vehicles were necessary as they would help maintain safety for drivers and passengers.