A local think tank, the Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research has welcomed Government’s plans to introduce a maximum age limit to imported used motor vehicles entering Zambia.
Deputy Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Mr. Richwell Siamunene reported in the Zambia Daily Mail of 28th May 2015 in which he states that Government will introduce a maximum age limit on imported used motor vehicles entering the country.
ZIPAR says the move is in line with what the institute has called for.
This is according to a statement by ZIPAR Executive Director Dr Pamela Kabaso.
Dr Kabaso said the Government is right to say that there is need to regulate the age of imported used vehicles entering the country to ensure quality and safety.
She said the Deputy Minister’s comments reflect the findings from a research conducted by ZIPAR on Used Motor Vehicle Imports and the Impact on Transportation in Zambia.
‘ZIPAR’s research findings show that the average age of Zambia’s motor vehicle fleet has increased from 12 years in 2006 to above 15 years in 2014.Left alone as it were, in the next five years the average age of Zambia’s motor vehicle fleet could reach 20 years.,’ she said.
‘In the research report, ZIPAR argues that one of the main reasons for the aging fleet of vehicles in Zambia is that the age at which used vehicles are being imported – for example from Japan – is getting older. The average age at which vehicles are imported has risen from 10.5 years in 2006 to just under 13 years in 2014,’ Dr Kabaso said.
Meanwhile, author of the report Zali Chikuba argued that Zambian policy makers should consider options for reducing the age of imported vehicles in Zambia because it matters for a number of reasons.
He said ‘firstly older cars are more unreliable as they are more likely to breakdown, which means that Zambian consumers are increasingly risking buying a car which is not good value for money – it might only last a few years on the road.’
‘Secondly, it will make it harder to reduce the high rate of car crashes on our roads. With 23.7 road traffic deaths per 100,000 population, Zambia is among the riskiest countries, ranking 12th out of 48 participating African countries (World Health Organisation, 2013). Thirdly, older cars are bad for the environment.
Typically, the older a motor vehicle is the higher the mileage and the higher the emissions level.
Other findings in the report include that the proportion of motor vehicles without roadworthiness certification has increased from 14% in 2006 to 32% in 2013.
ZIPAR said this is important because while legally vehicles without certificate of roadworthiness are not meant to be on the road, it is widely accepted that many that have failed their road worthiness test are still being driven.
The institute said the average age of the entire fleet including those without roadworthiness certification has increased from 13 years in 2006 to 17 years in 2014.
The analysis projects the average age of the entire fleet to reach 20 years, in the next five years.
This is expected to cause greater car maintenance and repair burden on Zambia.
The research also found that the proportion of newer cars in Zambia’s motor vehicle fleet is dwindling while that of older cars is increasing.
‘It would be expected of these trends to continue as the fleet ages. The picture is not any different when only roadworthy vehicles are considered,’ it said.
The research further found that the fit lifespan of used motor vehicles in Zambia is low with average fit lifespan of used motor vehicle imports been slightly below 4 years while that of new motor vehicles is slightly greater than 12 years while the global expected lifespan of a standard motor vehicle is 13 years.
‘While it may be argued that more liberal second-hand motor vehicle importation policies are helping poor Zambians to own one, the study shows that motor vehicle ownership is still dominated by better off urban households. Clearly, the goal of enabling more poor households to own cars has not been achieved by relaxing used motor vehicle importation policies.’
It added, ‘Given that taxes applicable on older and newer vehicles are the same, the tax amounts paid on newer vehicles are as many times larger depending on the pre-tax price. While this taxation policy may seem equitable, newer vehicles which are generally more expensive become extremely costly and very few Zambian households can afford to buy them.’
ZIPAR has since proposed three short-term policy changes and three long-term policy options including the strengthening of the pre-shipment road worthiness assessments, changing the current import duty and excise tax treatment for imported motor vehicles and placing a cap on the age of vehicles imported into Zambia.
The long-term policy options include a strengthening of the public transport system, introduce motor vehicle scrappage policy and commencing local motor vehicle assembly of popular models.