Dear Editor,

We have minibus fares going up due to increased fuel costs, and according to the bus operators, the rising cost of spare parts. The operators even got the government to continue to allow used tyres to be imported.

This I find most distressing, since all drivers understand that it serves them better to purchase new tyres rather than second-hand rejects from up north. The problem is how to finance new tyres, which by the way outlast second-hand tyres five to one. We finance stereo sets, sofas and many other commodities, but find it difficult to support the financing of new, durable and maybe life-saving items, such as a new tyre. So much for our financial institutions.

We compromise on safety without evaluating the true cost of such backward decisions. The bottom line is that used (second or third-hand) tyres cost more than new tyres; they may even cost lives. There should be no duty on new tyres (to promote safety) and used tyres should be banned. We still have problems in determining the difference between price and cost.

We are not serious about safety on our roads, we cannot be. What have we heard from the Traffic Chief regarding this retrograde step? Abs-olutely nothing!

Besides the spiralling fuel cost, the bus operators cited the high cost of spare parts as another reason to raise fares. I expected the Minister of Industry, Mr Maniram Prashad to suggest to the minibus associations that they together import these spares themselves and re-sell same to their members at cost plus administrative cost. This would have shown initiative at finding a solution to an obstacle.

Sometimes some decisions can hurt our friends. A problem is only an obstacle or a puzzle if we have no apparent solution. Once solutions are found and acted upon the problem or puzzle no longer exists.

We therefore must be ‘finders of solutions’ in order to make a positive impact on our society. If we cannot solve problems we must make way for those who can.

The increasing cost of spares will still be with the operators tomorrow. We must begin to be innovative if we cannot be inventive.

Is it cost effective for our nation or our citizens to continue to import used cars?

When fuel efficiency is considered, ie how many kilometres per litre (or miles per gallon) the particular vehicle is capable of attaining, there may be a case for us to restrict used motor vehicles which do not have acceptable fuel efficiency co-efficients. When one considers the five-year lifespan of a used vehicle burning, for argument’s sake, 10-15% more fuel than a new vehicle on a daily basis, a considerable amount accrues over that period. The price for a new vehicle will obviously be higher than that of a used vehicle, but will it in the long run cost less? Here we have to really examine price and cost.

A new vehicle will use less fuel, have lower maintenance and will offer greater availability. It requires, however, better financing, reasonable insurance and definitely low duties and taxes.

In the meantime we support other country’s waste industries – used tyres and used cars. It would be interesting to calculate the loss in revenue by removing or lowering the taxes on new vehicles against the savings in foreign exchange on fuel (higher efficiencies) and spare parts (less wear and tear). Some research our university could spearhead – useful work.

As we make a case for payment from industrialised countries for our standing forests, there must be consistency in our overall policies regarding the reduction and control of greenhouse gases emitted from the dumped vehicles of the West, which we gobble up each year.

We should not continue to support such industries. In fact the duties on used vehicles, if these are not banned, should be a disincentive to those who would want to import them.

We cannot pretend that all is well. This nation must make serious decisions which would affect the way we live or survive for years to come. They must be made, however, and the sooner the better.

Yours faithfully,
Everall Franklin, MP

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