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Too many foreign-used cars in T&T

Too many foreign-used cars in T&T - Imbert


Works and Transport Minister Colm Imbert revealed yesterday that the Government was seriously considering a reduction in the age of foreign-used vehicles entering the T&T market because of its contribution to traffic congestion.

"We are way over in terms of the number of used foreign vehicles in the country, far too many," Imbert said.

"We have to cut it and the first thing weíre gonna be looking at is reducing the age down to three years, maybe even less, in terms of the age of the vehicle that can come in but I will need to have dialogue with the importers first."

But Pre-owned Automobile Association president Inshan Ishmael said yesterday that foreign-used cars were not the cause of the nationís traffic woes.

Contacted on Imbertís announcement yesterday, Ishmael said the Government was not dealing with the real problem.

"There are over 70,000 illegal vehicles on the road. We have provided document to the Government to prove it and they have done nothing," Ishmael said.

"If the minister had opened his eyes and take the illegal vehicles off the road, as he is mandated to do, maybe we might get a reduction in number of vehicles on the road."

Imbert disclosed the Governmentís intentions while speaking to reporters yesterday after a ceremony that marked the commissioning of the Diego Martin Highway extension which he said had cost $42 million.

It was during the ceremony that Housing Minister Dr Keith Rowley first noted that while projects like the highway extension were welcome, the Government needed to look at other factors involved in traffic congestion, such as the importation of foreign- used vehicles.

The roll-on, roll-off foreign-used vehicle industry, which really began to flourish under the 1995-2001 UNC administration, has became a major alternative to the higher- priced vehicles offered by the new-car industry.

Imbert acknowledged foreign-used cars had benefited T&T consumers, but said the time had come to limit the numbers.

He said a reduction in the age of the roll-on, roll-off cars would make them become less attractive as an alternative to buying a new or used car.

Imbert also said he intended to have consultations with the foreign-used car dealers, the T&T Automobile Association and the general public before the Government made any decision on the issue.

He gave no time frame for any such decision.

Ishmael said the Government would pay a heavy political price if it implemented such a move.

"I assure you if they attempt to change the legislation, if they attempt the change the age of the vehicles, I will guarantee you not one vote will go toward them," he said.

"We have a large market of businessmen and employees."

Also contacted yesterday, New Car Dealer Association president Jerome Borde said if the Government decided to reduce the age of foreign used vehicles, this would have little impact on what he described as a loosely- regulated foreign-used car industry.

"Unless there are solid guidelines they are going to be circumvented as has happened over the last few years," said Borde.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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