By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamian Auto Repair Association (BARA) yesterday called for the release of a promised report on Japanese auto import inspections, questioning if some industries have a "hidden agenda".
Dwaine Scavella, the BARA president, said: "What happened to the report the Bahamian motorists have been waiting on, or is it they found nothing so they could not give a report. If the trip was really about safety, which of the delegates can explain what a structural repair process is for a vehicle to be roadworthy again, or which one can explain the importance of changing a bad wheel bearing?"
He added: "Many motorists believe that the trip to Japan was a smokescreen to satisfy the motor dealers' appetite to control and force high interest loans for vehicles they can't afford. As I receive feed back from used car dealers, the one thing that sticks out is the word 'reject'.
"The thing is the price of new cars is out of reach for the poor, so when they import a used vehicle or even a damaged vehicle it's labelled a 'reject' or it's unworthy. More and more members of the public are having less trust in the motor dealers because they believe they have a hidden agenda."
Edison Sumner, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) chief executive, earlier this month warned that The Bahamas is serving as a "dumping ground" for vehicles that have been rejected as unsafe by other nations.
He added that more than 17,000 vehicles are being exported to The Bahamas from Japan on an annual basis, despite concern over their "roadworthiness" and possible "radioactive contamination".
Mr Sumner, who also serves as deputy chair of the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ), said during a Rotary Club of South East Nassau that the agency's trip to Japan - which he went on in January - had assessed pre-export inspection processes for used vehicles shipped to The Bahamas. It focused on one vehicle testing company, EAA Company, to determine whether its facilities were compliant with International Standards Organisation (ISO) 1725 certification.
That trip sparked claims of a "conspiracy" to "squeeze the small man"' and force Bahamians to purchase more expensive vehicles, claims Mr Sumner again sought to dispel. The delegation's findings have never been published.
Labour Minister Dion Foulkes, who has responsibility for the BBSQ, confirmed he had received a report and that its contents would be made public, although he indicated that the person responsible for handling the report is on leave.