Zimbabwe’s Government decision to restrict the importation of vehicles more than 10 years old has the potential to see the accrual of huge economic benefits, players in the motor industry have said.
The Government, last week gazetted regulations that gave legal effect to the Government’s decision to restrict vehicles older than 10 years as a means to revive the once vibrant local car industry.
Such a ban on used cars is not unique to Zimbabwe as several other jurisdictions restrict such imports.
In South Africa for example, one can only import a second-hand vehicle after getting a permit and this is meant to protect the local motor vehicle manufacturing industry.
Special circumstances considered for such imports include returning nationals, importers of racing cars and vintage passenger vehicles.
The ban, among other things, is meant to stimulate the local car industry, a move that is in sync with Government’s industrialisation thrust.
The Government has also accelerated the revival of the country’s public transport system through the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) to meet public transport demand.
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A number of car sale firms that had mushroomed in the country are set to feel the pinch of the Government’s ban.
However, some in the car sale business appreciated the Government’s decision.
PanJap Motors, a leading player in the motor industry said the Government had an obligation to protect the local industry and the ban was a positive move.
“The importation of these second hand cars had weighed heavily on local businesses. It was not viable for our businesses,” said PanJap director Mr Brighton Ushendibaba.
“These cars would have been deemed unfit in their countries of origin and we were basically a dumping site.
“We are in support of this move. Yes, it is painful for many, but we have to adjust. The ban will also allow those in the business of car assembly a chance to grow and create employment,” said Mr Ushendibaba.
Another player, Mr Victor Matiyenga who is managing director with Exquisite Cars (Pvt) Limited said the proliferation of second hand vehicles had weighed heavily on the local infrastructure resulting in congestion in the central business district.
“The decision by the Government to effect this ban was long overdue and I am sure positive results will start showing on the ground,” said Mr Matiyenga.
“There is no doubt that at face value some, will conclude that this was harsh but if you look at it closely, you will note that our infrastructure was paying a huge price as a result of this vehicle influx.”
“Our roads, utilities such as tollgates and city parking was meant to cater for a particular number of private cars which is commensurate with our economy and population.
“So all this has been hugely distorted by the somewhat dumping site that we had become over the years resulting in crippling congestion at toll gates and the CBD” he said.
Last year the visiting Belarusian Minister of Industry, Mr Piotr Parkhomchik said they had committed to set up a bus assembly plant in Zimbabwe.
He said through a joint venture cooperation with Belarus, Zimbabwe would soon set up a vehicle assembly plant for the production of buses suitable for the local terrain.