Government’s intention of banning second-hand and salvaged vehicles has been met with outrage from dealers who consider the move to be too harsh and can potentially kill their business.
Last week at a media encounter, the Majority Leader of Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu, said the entry of automobile giants such as Toyota, Nissan, VW, among others in the country, should necessitate a ban on overaged second-hand vehicles in order to give them a favourable environment to operate.
However, dealers in the sector say the proposal is not prudent as it will cripple, not only their businesses, but that of spare parts dealers as well. They argue that the fact that those vehicle manufacturers are coming to set up assembling plants in the country should not necessarily call for a ban on importation of salvaged vehicles because not everyone can afford to buy brand new cars in an economy like Ghana’s.
“That thing can never work because we cannot buy those cars from the manufacturers, and our businesses will also collapse. Moreover, when the cars are overaged, we are charged penalties at the ports.
Before I import accident vehicles, I consider the damage and the market, so I do not buy severely damaged cars, and our market is such that most of our customers prefer American models and that is what we provide for them,” a dealer who wants to be known as Mr. Labaran told B&FT in an interview.
Duke, another car dealer, said the proposal made by parliament would price them out of the market, hence, affecting their livelihoods.
“If importing such cars is banned, how do we remain in business to take care of ourselves and families? The car manufacturers can come and assemble cars here for those that can afford brand new cars, so that we can still import the accident cars for those who cannot buy brand new ones.
You cannot buy, for example, a Mercedes Benz that has not got any dent on it. You will go to dealership and they will mention a price of say US$50,000, and the one that has got dents can be sold between US$20,000 and US$30,000,” he said.
A further case the majority leader made to support the ban on the vehicles was the rampant major accidents in the country which, he believes, the imported second-hand vehicles are partly to blame for the carnage on the roads.
“Maybe we will begin by banning the importation of vehicles that are older than ten years, and then also prevent the import of salvaged vehicles (vehicles that are involved in accidents outside, and vehicles that are flooded). They are the reasons why we have so many accidents on our roads,” he said.
But in a sharp rebuttal, Mr. Labaran debunked such assertions, saying, all accident cars imported into the country are repaired before they are sold, adding that, the rampant road accidents are caused by reckless driving and indiscipline.
“We repair those cars and ensure they are in good shape before selling them to clients. Manufacturing cars here doesn’t guarantee people will not die from accidents,” he said.