ZIMBABWEAN car dealers and individuals importing second-hand vehicles via Walvis Bay in Namibia and driving them through Botswana will now have to find an alternative route after the neighbouring country issued a decree effectively banning the use of its territory as transit for imported vehicles.
BY STAFF REPORTER
Scores of car dealers and individuals had been importing second-hand vehicles from Europe via Walvis Bay and using the Botswana route as the conduit pipeline to access Zimbabwe.
The Botswana government recently issued a decree banning unregistered imported vehicles from driving on its roads and ordered police to impound all such vehicles.
According to a memorandum from Botswana’s permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Tsaone Thebe, and copied to the commissioner of the Botswana Police Service dated December 19, 2013, imported vehicles were neither registered nor licenced and it was a violation of the law for them to be on the country’s roads.
“We have since realised that there are a number of unregistered vehicles plying on our roads on (a) daily basis.
“These vehicles are either destined for Botswana or are in transit to neighbouring countries.
“In terms of the Road Traffic Act Sections 6 and 16, only registered and licensed motor vehicles are allowed to be used on the road.
“These vehicles in question are neither registered nor licensed and, therefore, by being on the road, the drivers of them are committing an offence.
“The vehicles should be impounded and removed from our roads,” reads part of Thebe’s memorandum.
“The vehicle (sic) commits an offence if it is driven on the road hence both the police and DRTS (Department of Road Transport and Safety) staff should take the responsibility of enforcing the law,” she said.
Botswana said it was losing revenue as the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) was not charging the vehicles for road usage, but damage was being done to the country’s roads.
“These vehicles do not qualify to be issued with Temporary Motor Vehicle Licences as this is issued to vehicles which have been cleared by both police and BURS and require the licence for purposes of roadworthiness inspection before registration.
“Driving these vehicles on the road for long distances is a road safety hazard because if they are involved in an accident, they cannot be traced because they are neither registered nor licensed. Most of these vehicles have long been de-registered in the countries of origin and, therefore, their roadworthiness is no longer valid and cannot be ascertained,” Thebe said.
This ban will affect hundreds of Zimbabweans who have been collecting imported cars from Namibia and driving them through Botswana.
In March 2013, BURS enforced the Southern Africa Customs Union agreement that prohibits the use and registration of imported second-hand vehicles which are more than five years old.
This forced some Zimbabweans to import cars from Europe via Tanzania.
South Africa was the first country in Sadc to ban the driving of second-hand vehicles imported from elsewhere to neighbouring countries in its territorial boundaries in 2005 after a two-year court battle.
Importers of used cars using the Durban port in South Africa are required to transport their vehicles on carrier trucks and cargo trains up to Beitbridge before driving them.