The government has begun mandatory inspections of all imported used vehicles as part of wider assessments to curb the import of substandard goods into the country.

The scope of checks includes investigating possible cases of odometer fraud, excessive rust and tire wear, as well as airbag functions.

The mandatory inspections, which began on Friday, will cover all emission levels of imported vehicles.

Vehicles that do not meet these standards will likely be banned from entering the country.

Inspections extend to include imported spare parts.

In a presentation during a workshop organized by the Ministry of Industry and Trade on Consignment-Based Conformity Assessment in Harare last week, Bureau Veritas (BV) Contracts Manager, Mr Tendai Jeremiah Malunga, said the mandatory inspections are scheduled to begin on March 1.

BV is contracted by the government to provide pre-shipment inspection services for specific imported goods deemed essential for quality control.

The service helps reduce the flow of substandard goods into the country.

BV charges between $140 and $200 per vehicle for inspection.

He said: “Used vehicles and spare parts will be subject to mandatory inspection as of March 1 this year.”

“This scheme was introduced on September 1, 2023 by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.”

Last year, the government issued Statutory Instrument (SI) 156, which mandates pre-shipment inspections of specified imported goods entering Zimbabwe.

It applies to a specific list of regulated goods that are essential for quality control, such as used cars and spare parts, electrical goods, building materials and chemicals.

“The goal is to perform sophisticated checks on odometer fraud; they are solid vehicles. There is no water and structural damage. . . .

“We will also check for worn tire treads, excessive rust, airbag function, faulty lights or excessive emissions.”

Odometer fraud refers to the manipulation of a vehicle’s mileage readings.

Inspectors will also check vehicle tires to ensure they meet safety standards and have adequate tread depth, identifying vehicles with significant rust damage that could affect structural integrity.

In addition, they will check the proper operation of the airbags and basic vehicle lights.

Malunga said BV would send teams to conduct pre-shipment checks on used vehicles in Japan and ports such as Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

He added: “We will have teams that will visit the source of imports to inspect the products before shipping them to the country.”

“This is called pre-import inspection which will be coupled with checks at the port of entry regarding vehicles that have not been tested at source or port.”

In terms of SI, importers of regulated goods must arrange for pre-shipment inspections by designated Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) such as Bureau Veritas before shipping goods to Zimbabwe.

CABs will inspect goods against specified technical standards and regulations to ensure they meet specified quality and safety requirements.

If the goods are compliant with the standards, the CAB will issue a Certificate of Conformity, which is necessary for customs clearance in Zimbabwe.

However, the new regulations establish exceptions for certain categories, such as personal effects or goods imported by government agencies that may not require pre-shipment inspections.

Malonga said the inspections were not aimed at preventing the entry of defective vehicles, but to ensure that they meet the standards set in the country.

There is also scope to allow importers to repair their vehicles before allowing them to enter the country. Sunday mail

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