Govt clamps down on used car imports

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Industry and Trade Minister Joshua Setipa
Industry and Trade Minister Joshua Setipa

Bereng Mpaki

THE government will in August impose new vehicle importing requirements in a bid to manage the influx of unroadworthy second-hand cars.

Addressing a press conference yesterday, Trade and Industry Minister Joshua Setipa said vehicle importers would need to obtain certificates of roadworthiness from exporting countries before they can come to Lesotho.

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

“We want to ensure that only roadworthy vehicles in their countries of origin will be allowed into Lesotho,” Mr Setipa said.

“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.”

He said the grey imports were behind many accidents, adding that worn-out tyres were also partly to blame for the high number of road fatalities.

“Our failure to manage this situation will lead to more deadly accidents of which there are indications they are already happening. Added to that, the vehicles are causing a lot of traffic congestion on our roads,” said Mr Setipa.

“The worn out second-hand tyres that are cut with hot blades to make them look new are also killing our people. As the government, we have a have a huge responsibility to our people to bring that to an end.”

He said the government had to balance between enabling the majority of Basotho who cannot afford to buy brand new cars and ensuring their safety in those vehicles.

“The most important thing I must emphasise is that we are not trying to inhibit Basotho from getting imported vehicles, but to save the lives of our people from needless accidents. The fact of the matter is that Lesotho has been turned into dumping site for vehicles that are not roadworthy and that must come to an end,” Mr Setipa said.

The cars they were concerned about were sold for very low prices and mostly emanated from such countries as Singapore, China and Japan.

“Every Mosotho has the right to be assisted to buy a vehicle, and as the government, we have no intention of prohibiting that. What we are against is the sale of some of these vehicles for as little as US$900 which have been on the road for 24 years and not road worthy in their countries of origin.”

The minister added that no new requirements would be imposed on second-hand vehicles that were already in the country.

Used-vehicle importers who spoke to the Lesotho Times said the new requirements would push up grey car prices.

Meanwhile, Mr Setipa said ministry officials and the police would soon embark on a campaign to ensure that traders’ licenses were not being abused. He said it had come to their attention that some Basotho were applying for licenses so they can lease them to foreign businesspeople.

Mr Setipa said certain businesses were only reserved for Basotho, adding that leasing them to the foreigners was against the law.

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