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Say It Loud

For the Second-Hand Vehicle Lobbyists.

Patriot Turncoat
2002-06-09 09:24:56

Today, I take on those used-car traders who are lobbying Government to remove restrictions on age-limit of imported cars. I will start with the Senegalese example.

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Senegal Backtracks on Clapped-Out Cars

Petit Train Bleu

Industrial pollution and household wastes are often the focus of concern when pollution in African countries is discussed. But there is a form of waste transfer which is more harmful and more insidious: the import of used vehicles from developed countries.

Importing such vehicles was not specifically regulated in Senegal until 1993, when a decree was passed prohibiting the import of:

used private vehicles more than three years old; commercial and public transport vehicles more than five years old; heavy goods vehicles more than seven years old.

The restrictions were triggered by the huge gap recorded in 1993 between dwindling sales of new commercial vehicles (1,646) and soaring imports of used vehicles (6,542). The car salesmen's lobby raised the alarm as much as the state's falling tax revenue alerted it to the problem.

But most importantly, these old vehicles cause air pollution, which leads to a variety of health problems. Most imported vehicles run on diesel, a highly polluting fuel. They are not fitted with catalytic converters and their exhaust pipes pump out huge amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and other toxic substances. These emissions are contributing to an upsurge in skin infections, respiratory illnesses and even cancer. These old cars and trucks often break down, causing many fatal accidents and obstructing roads. The noise pollution caused by faulty engines and growing scrap heaps of discarded vehicles bring additional problems.

But the law against these older imports was short-lived. The government gave in under pressure from well-established lobbies in the lucrative second-hand vehicle market. The following year, an amended decree was passed, raising the age limit for imported private vehicles from three to five years; for imported commercial and public transport vehicles from five to seven years (later raised to eight years); and for imported heavy goods vehicles from seven to 13 years. In addition, a new provision granted exceptional exemptions, subject to certain conditions, to vehicles owned by emigrants or Senegalese diplomats and foreign aid workers or foreign nationals changing residence.

Following the devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994 and the resulting sharp fall in local purchasing power, acquiring new vehicles became more difficult. And so another decree was adopted in 1995, stating that vehicles whose import was prohibited under Article 1 could qualify for an exemption if their owners could prove roadworthiness.

With restrictions on the second-hand imports now considerably weakened, the detrimental effects of these vehicles will continue. Governments faced with this problem can ameliorate matters by:

improving public transport systems;

introducing tax policies to encourage use of new vehicles;

setting up vehicle recycling plants.

[This is an authentic posting from (Registered User)]
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