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Dealers Deny Seeking ‘Blanket’ Wreck Ban

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Auto dealers yesterday denied seeking a ‘blanket ban’ on wrecked vehicle imports, while urging the Bahamas to avoid becoming an industry “dumping ground”.

Rick Lowe, Nassau Motor Company’s (NMC) director/operations manager, told Tribune Business that dealers had merely recommended Customs stop writing-up slips that enabled wrecked vehicles - once repaired - to be licensed and inspected at the Road Traffic Department.

He was responding after Bahamian auto repairers accused their dealer counterparts of lobbying the Government for an all-encompassing ban on wrecked vehicle imports as a means “to put the small man out of business.”

But Mr Lowe revealed yesterday: “Our suggestion was not to ban all wrecked vehicle imports. Our suggestion was not to give them the Road Traffic licensing slip. That’s been our position all along. It’s a tough situation for us all.”

He explained that, under current auto import procedures, Customs issues a slip confirming that the vehicle has been properly cleared at the border with all due taxes paid.

This is then taken by the importer to the Road Traffic Department to facilitate the vehicle’s licensing and inspection.

However, the slip has facilitated Bahamian auto thieves, who are able to switch Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) from imported wrecks on to cars stolen in the Bahamas.

Having changed the latter’s identity, the stolen car can thus masquerade as the imported wreck when taken to Road Traffic for licensing, with the Customs slip ensuring it passes inspection.

“Our suggestion all along was not to issue that [Customs] slip for wrecked vehicles because that was facilitating the transfer of the VIN from the wreck to the stolen car,” Mr Lowe told Tribune Business.

“We said that if a vehicle’s deemed unroadworthy and can’t get licensed in the US, what makes it roadworthy in the Bahamas? That would still facilitate people bringing in spare parts legitimately.”

Mr Lowe explained that this proposal was made during the last round of discussions, involving auto dealers, banks, insurance companies and the relevant government agencies, on developing a Bahamian vehicle titling system.

Agreeing with auto repair industry complaints that the Government had failed to consult with the sector prior to announcing the planned September 1 ‘wreck’ ban, Mr Lowe said: “I don’t blame them for defending legitimate territory.

“The Government certainly doesn’t every situation. I understand their [auto repairers] concerns. It’s a legitimate concerns. This is why, when legislation creates unintended consequences, not everyone understands.”

Fred Albury, the Bahamas Motor Dealers Association (BMDA), yesterday vehemently denied that there was any intention to put small Bahamian entrepreneurs out of business over the wrecked vehicle issue.

Echoing Mr Lowe, he said BMDA members had “no issue” with wrecked vehicles that were imported into the Bahamas purely for parts and salvage work.

Mr Albury, though, warned that the Bahamas must not become a “dumping ground” for wrecked vehicles. And he suggested that a ban on those imported for repairs that would see them returned to road use would benefit Bahamian consumers, rather than auto dealers.

“These wrecks are contributing to so much corruption, and contributing to vehicle theft,” Mr Albury told Tribune Business.

“The insurance companies have more to say about this than the dealers, as they are the ones having to pay out for stolen vehicles. It’s not just the car dealers.”

The Auto Mall chief said wrecked vehicles raised health and safety, and consumer protection, issue for the Bahamas if they were repaired and presented to potential buyers as new, only to “fall into pieces” on the roads.

“If these vehicles are not fit for use in the US, why should we become the dumping ground for them?” Mr Albury asked.

While there was no issue with vehicles suffering from minor damage or ‘fender benders’ returning to the road, Mr Albury suggested that imported ‘wrecks’ be inspected and certified by a mechanical engineer to determine if they were roadworthy.

“This is not for car dealers; it’s more for consumer protection,” Mr Albury said of the Government’s proposed wrecked vehicle ban. “It’s multi-faceted but, at the end of the day, the consumer will pay a little bit more for a better quality vehicle, and get better value for money/

“There are a handful of guys specialising in this and profiting like crazy, but the insurance companies are getting hit and the banks financing these vehicles ultimately find out they’re a piece of junk and there’s no equity left in them when they have to repossess.

“It’s not just the car dealers. It’s the insurance companies, banks and consumers taking hits all around. This should clear it up.”

Mr Albury said auto dealers had “taken our blows, especially since 2010” with numerous tax increases. He added that the 2015-2016 Budget had been “the first favourable year” for the sector, with Excise Tax rates being condensed and lowered to a uniform 65 per cent.

“At lower rates of duty, there’s no reason why consumers cannot buy a roadworthy vehicle with a little left in it and be safe on the roads,” he added.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 4 years, 1 month ago

All Road Traffic has to do is look at the engine block's VIN tag to confirm the numbers.

Lame ass excuse...

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The_Oracle 4 years, 1 month ago

Lame-assed road traffic dept. without a searchable VIN # database. Too easy to fudge hand written licenses. easy solution, prohibit the importation of vehicles sold at auction in the U.S as non-road worthy/parts only. Some auction cars are sold able to be re-titled as a whole road worthy car, not two welded together! Importing used parts is questionable but not as un-ethical as a complete car made from damaged cars.

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birdiestrachan 4 years, 1 month ago

Mr: Lowe and Mr: Albury and the rich insurance companies.won on this one and the poor black people have lost big time Now I do not think persons should be putting cars together. Lowe, Albury and the Insurance companies will never be satisfied no matter what the PLP does. The PLP left the poor people way behind on this one. we can not afford expensive cars.

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newcitizen 4 years, 1 month ago

The PLP have not done a thing for poor people in anyway. This is one of the only smart things they have done. You think the PLP gives a crap about anyone but themselves and lining your pockets?

Birdie you really don't offer anything to these discussions. You're as effective as the PLP government.

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BahamaPundit 4 years, 1 month ago

While I am sympathetic to the plight of the poor and lowely, this is a victory for The Bahamas. Why should we be importing Japan's trash to our beautiful shores. Think bigger Bahamians than the few bucks in your pocket! The Bahamas has no room for another country's garbage. Those old wrecks are junking up the place.

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avidreader 4 years, 1 month ago

Japan is not allowed to export "wrecks" and that is a long-standing policy of successive Japanese governments. To allow the export of substandard vehicles would only damage the reputation for quality enjoyed by the major (if not all) the Japanese manufacturers. They worked long and hard to establish the high standards for which Honda, Toyota and Nissan (among others) have become known on a worldwide basis. They have conquered the world markets through strict quality controls and tremendous resources dedicated to research and development of their evolving products. Before World War 2 the Japanese did not have much of a reputation for quality except perhaps for their Mitsubishi Zero fighter aircraft. Today Mitsubishi is still a manufacturer of automobiles (among many product lines) and enjoys a good reputation. The "wrecks" that these writers are referring to come from a country much closer to home.

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