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Prepare for traffic gridlock
Philip Knaggs, president of the Automotive Dealers Association of Trinidad and Tobago, yesterday warned that increasing the minimum age of imported foreign-used vehicles from four to six years will result in older, less safe vehicles flooding the market, adding to traffic congestion in a major way. “Be prepared for traffic gridlock,” he said. “Trinidad is fast becoming a ‘dumping ground’ for unwanted goods from First World nations. The fact is that Japan is dumping their old vehicles, with older emissions technology and safety standards, into Trinidad.”
Knaggs has written to Trade and Industry Minister Stephen Cadiz on the issue, with recommendations on measures the Government can introduce to make vehicles more affordable. “If the Government wants a proper way to make vehicles affordable for the average buyer, the proper way would be to reduce duties and taxes on smaller-engine new vehicles... Then the public would have cheaper vehicles, with three-year warranties, the latest safety and emission technology, and proper dealership parts and service,” he said.
He said it was a travesty that the ministry did not mandate that foreign-used vehicles be sold with at least a one-year warranty. “If the Ministry of Trade is serious about protecting the buying public, that should be the first new regulation,” he said. “If the foreign-used importers are so confident that their product is a good one, then why do they lobby to not have a proper warranty in place? “When a consumer experiences engine or transmission failure with a foreign-used vehicle that they have had for just four months, who do they see? Perhaps they should knock on the door of the Ministry of Trade, since they would have been responsible for no proper regulation.”
Knaggs contended that foreign-used vehicles had a serious environmental and social impact, since they had older safety and emissions technology and were closer to the end of their life-cycle. “The foreign-ised industry has been plagued with problems from the start: Complaints of stolen cars, wrong ages represented, invoicing issues, mechanical problems with no recourse, little or no parts support... Is this the industry that the Ministry of Trade wants to encourage?” he said. “The path to First World status does not include subjecting your citizens to a flood of older, used products from other nations.”
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