Senators call for strict measures to curb import of old cars in Rwanda

On 27 July 2023 at 12:56

Senator Emmanuel Havugimana has urged the government to heighten policies aimed at curbing the importation of old vehicles into Rwanda, citing their contribution to road accidents. The call was made on Tuesday, July 25th, 2023 as the Minister of Infrastructure, Dr. Ernest Nsabimana, presented measures to prevent road accidents to the Upper House of Parliament.

Based on assessments conducted by senators, it has been determined that old cars are significant contributors to road accidents in the country. Senator Hadija Ndangiza Murangwa, who was among those making these observations, referenced a study conducted by the Rwanda National Police, which revealed that 80% of cars on the road are over 15 years old. This concerning statistic underscores the potential dangers of continuing to import such vehicles into Rwanda.

In response to these concerns, Minister Nsabimana emphasized that the government is already focusing efforts on inspecting vehicles’ standards, both for newly imported ones and those already present in Rwanda. He also disclosed that the National Police has set up four mechanical inspection centers, in addition to the existing one in Kigali City, while the government plans to expand such facilities across the country.

Senator Havugimana also stressed the importance of setting an age limit for imported vehicles, following the example of other African countries. Countries like Uganda (15 years), Kenya and Senegal (8 years), Gabon (4 years), Nigeria (10 years), and Algeria (3 years) have implemented age limits for used vehicle imports. Senator Havugimana believes that adopting similar measures for cars in Rwanda would be a step in the right direction.

Regarding age limits for imported vehicles, Minister Nsabimana revealed that discussions are ongoing within the East African Community (EAC). However, he emphasized the need to consider various factors, including economic effects and oil consumption, before finalizing any decisions. The government remains optimistic that measures can be implemented to ensure the continued importation of new cars while addressing road safety concerns.

Apart from the issue of road accidents, a study conducted by the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) in 2019 highlighted other environmental concerns associated with old vehicles. The study revealed that 95.2% of cars in Rwanda were over 10 years old, with 56.6% manufactured before 1999 and 77.2% manufactured before 2000 and contribute significantly to air pollution.