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Government explains revised Vehicle Importation Policy 2023   By Patrick Joubert |29 February 2024

Government explains revised  Vehicle Importation Policy 2023     By Patrick Joubert

PS Lebon flanked by PS Andre (left) and Mr Lozé during the press conference yesterday (Photo: Patrick Joubert)

Motor vehicles dealers who do not react to product recall from car manufacturers will be fined or have their license revoked.

The statement was made by the principal secretary for Trade within the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade, Francis Lebon, during a press conference held yesterday morning at the Trade division, Maison Esplanade.

He was giving an update on the Vehicle Importation Policy 2023 approved by Cabinet recently. Also present were principal secretary Patrick Andre and the director policy and safety, Bertrand Lozé, from the Ministry of Transport.

PS Lebon said that among conditions in the policy, they have established that it is necessary to have a product recall mechanism for motor dealers so they remain responsible to communicate the information to consumers and give them the necessary recourse any time there is a product recall on a particular brand of vehicle.

“It will become an offense and it will carry fines and penalties as well as it could involve revocation of the license,” he stated.

PS Lebon stated that objectives of the policy are to set standards for the importation of new motor vehicles for private use, and new, light-duty vehicles for commercial use, with emphasis on ensuring safe and quality products to consumers.

It sets out guidelines for importers and the relevant authorities involved with approving import permits, customs control, and selling of new vehicles by brand and auction dealers, and private individuals.

Among the conditions for motor vehicle dealers to obtain a license is for them to have an official place of trade (physical address), an after-sale service, which will be mandatory, to provide warranty for a minimum of three years or at 50km, be able to make available spare parts, to ensure all vehicles carry a manual in a language understandable to customers, among others.

“The outcome of this policy basically is to ensure that the market remains competitive, consumers continue to get the best deals and the necessary protection especially since nowadays, purchasing a vehicle is a considerable investment,” PS Lebon said.

The policy also takes into consideration the guidelines for the storage and disposal of Lithium batteries from Hybrid vehicles, added the PS.

Discussion with the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment on the matter is still ongoing.

The policy is expected to be gazetted before January 1, 2025, and will come into force six months later to allow motor dealers to get acquainted.

Mr Lebon noted that various sensitisation programmes on the policy will be carried out before it comes into force and that the latest version has been circulated to the two motor vehicle associations for their feedbacks before the policy is finalised and gazetted. 

He thanked all stakeholders including the motor vehicle dealers for their inputs and contributions in the realisation of the comprehensive policy, noting that given continuous developments taking place overtime on the market, the policy will be continuously monitored and reviewed to adjust to new developments taking place.

The review of the policy dating back to 2015 and 2019 started in 2021.

Meanwhile, another new introduction in the policy includes a minimum vehicle and safety standard requirements for vehicles entering the country. This results from an increase in vehicles without the safety standard requirement, such as brightly lighted headlamps that can cause accidents, as a result of the non-availability of such standard in the 2019 policy.

Other safety standards include fixed safety belts for front and rear passengers and the child restrained system test, seat belt test, head restrain on front seats, seat belt attachment test, the conformity of the production test and safety test among others. 

The requirements are based on the United Nations (UN) vehicle safety standards. He added that vehicles that meet the safety standard will be issued with a Certificate of Conformity.

“With the introduction of the minimum vehicle and safety standard requirements, it will be mandatory for vehicles entering the country to meet those requirements,” Mr Lozé said.

The new policy allows private individuals to sell their vehicle within two years after purchase, but they will have to wait for two years before they can apply for a new import permit so as to differentiate between private individuals and motor dealers who is a licensed business.

However, in the event the vehicle is damaged in an accident, the private individual will be allowed to import another one without waiting for the two-year period.

Speaking on vehicles in the possession of graduates overseas, Mr Lozé stated that they are currently allowed to import their vehicles, which should be not more than three years old but those with left hand drive vehicles will be given the option to buy a new right hand drive transport or to buy one which is not more than three years old. He noted that the policy also applies to returning residents as well.

Mr Lozé said that given the 2019 policy does not allow for the replacement of chassis in pick-up trucks upon reaching 10 years and above, the policy statement have been revised to allow for replacement of chassis in two categories of pick-up trucks with less and more than 8 tonnes.

The age limit where replacement of chassis in pick-up trucks less than 8 tonnes cannot take place has been extended from 10 to 15 years while replacement of chassis in pick-up trucks more than 8 tonnes cannot take place upon reaching 20 years instead of the previous 10 years.

With regard to selling of motor engines by retailers, Mr Lozé stated that they will now be allowed to sell an unlimited number of engines as compared to the restricted five engines only from the old policy. He noted that they are still in discussion with stakeholders to establish an age limit of the engines.

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