An unexpected change to the age whereby vehicles can be brought to Samoa is causing problems for car dealers.
Up until now, imported vehicles up to 12 years old were allowed.
But the change to limit vehicles eight years old or less by next year, is already affecting car dealers.
Since the road switch, any car from the year 2004 onwards, was allowed into the country.
However, the sudden change from Cabinet means only cars from 2009 can be imported - effective on January 2017.
The change is to address the increasing number of vehicles being imported especially cars that do not last for long.
This has created a lot of problems for car importers.
The Manager of Alnima Motors, Shahjahan Fazor, told the Sunday Samoan they were only made aware about the change recently.
He said the short notice means their bulk order scheduled to arrive early next year, might have to be returned.
“This is the busiest time of the year and we have already processed our orders to arrive next year,” said Fazor.
“The short notice really does affect our business because we made our orders three months prior because of the long process. We have already processed about 40 cars from year 2004 – 2005 that will get in next year.”
The Manager said that while an early shipment from Japan arrives next week with 16 cars, the biggest lot comes after the cut off date of the permitted imported year of 2009 by January next year.
He added that he has already gone to see the Prime Minister about the issue and hopes there will be some help.
“If we don’t get anywhere, then we will have to return the whole order from Japan which will cost us quite a lot of money.”
Fazor estimated the cost of the 40 vehicles processed to arrive next year to be half a million. The change, he said, will not only affect his business but it will also affect customers in general.
He explained that the cost of vehicles from year 2004 is affordable with a selling price ranging from $12,000 to $15,000.
However, the prices of vehicles from years 2009 onwards, are a lot more expensive.
“A lot of people come with a budget of $12,000,” said Fazor.
“The value of vehicles from 2009 onwards is around thirty grand upwards which is a lot of money. I think that even the people will be struggling to pay for their own vehicles.”
It was not possible to get a comment from the Land Transport Authority (L.T.A.). All queries about the change are referred to the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure.
The M.W.T.I. Minister, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang was contacted for comment. He is outside of the country for a meeting in Mexico and will not be back until two weeks time.
According to notices at the L.T.A. compound, the public is “hereby advised on the change of the year of any vehicle imported to Samoa to become effective as of 1st January 2017.
“This new change is now eight years from the 12 years as it was before,” says the notice.