Reprieve for left-hand drive vehicles

via Reprieve for left-hand drive vehicles | The Herald October 5, 2015

Regulations to ban left-hand drive vehicles and imports of vehicles aged five years and above have been struck off the country’s statutes, Government has said.

Further, the Standards Association of Zimbabwe will no longer be required to certify fire extinguishers that come with imported vehicles.

The ban on left-hand drive vehicles was announced in Statutory Instrument 154 of 2010 but was successfully challenged in the High Court by the Transport Operators Association of Zimbabwe.

The Statutory Instrument was set aside, thereby creating a vacuum in the interpretation of other provisions that affect vehicles in transit.

Section 10 (2) of the regulations reads: “No person shall drive on a road any motor vehicle registered in terms of the Vehicle Registration and Licensing Act for the first time in Zimbabwe on or after 31st March 2011, if the steering wheel of the vehicle is on the left-hand side. Provided that no heavy vehicle fitted with a steering wheel on the left hand side shall be driven on a road after 31 December 2015.”

Government argued the ban was aimed at reducing traffic carnage as Zimbabwean motorists drive on the left side of the road.

Government is this week expected to gazette an amended Statutory Instrument dropping the two contentious issues, among other changes.

Director of Transport in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development Mr Allowance Sango last week told delegates at a stakeholders’ workshop to discuss issues related to regazetting SI154 in Harare that there were numerous noble intentions in that regualtion that needed to be embraced.

He said Government was happy with the new amendments as they directly dealt with issues relating to road accidents.

“The issue of left-hand drive vehicles and the ban of importation of cars aged five years and above is not part of the amended Statutory Instrument that we are going to gazette next week (this week),” he said.

“We have taken out the contentious issues in the revised said Statutory Instrument and hope that this will create a positive and conducive environment for a common understanding by all stakeholders.”

In the absence of the SI, transport operators said although the law required heavy trucks be fitted with a 1,5kg fire extinguisher, police were forcing them to carry at least two 1,5kg fire extinguishers.

Mr Sango said new issues in the amended Statutory Instrument include the need for serviceable spare wheels and tools in the event of a punctured or bust tyres to avoid hazards created by broken down vehicles.

“We need to acknowledge the dynamics and technological advancements of the motor industry thus necessitating the need for a common understanding, a buy-in by all of us for the regazetting of the revised Statutory Instrument with a few minor amendments,” he said.

Statutory Instrument 154 was promulgated as a successor to the old Construction, Equipment and Use Regulations of the 1970s.