The government signed a deal with EAA Company Limited yesterday to ensure that the second-hand vehicles being imported from Japan to The Bahamas are safe and roadworthy based on local standards, and that given Japan’s recent history of exposure to nuclear material following an earthquake and tsunami, vehicles are not irradiated.
The Ministry of Labour held a press conference yesterday to explain the relationship between EAA and The Bahamas, and to sign the deal which will make EAA the chief inspector of vehicles leaving Japan and headed for The Bahamas.
Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said yesterday that this deal will establish the parameters for the roadworthiness of all used vehicles imported from Japan.
“Many countries around the world have moved and are moving toward the introduction of import regulations that require the pre-shipment inspection of used motor vehicle imports,” he said.
“There is strong evidence to support that such a pre-export verification of conformity program serves to keep the roads of countries free of potentially unsafe vehicles.”
One cause for concern, that has nothing to do with the structural integrity of a vehicle, is the possible irradiation of vehicles that may have been exposed to nuclear material during a natural disaster in Japan in 2011.
Since that time The Bahamas has been importing vehicles from Japan, with no mechanism in place to ensure that those vehicles have no trace of nuclear material, Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ) Director Dr. Renee Ferguson-Bufford said yesterday at the press conference.
“We don’t have the testing facilities in place for that and we trust and pray that there have not been any irradiated imports,” she said.
“Because we have been a dumping ground for so long, and we have not had standards in place to ensure conformance to such standards, we really can’t answer that question. So we trust that going forward, in the next three months or so, we will begin to ensure that we test for all of these specifications, etc; that we will not have cars that are irradiated entering the country moving forward.”
According to Foulkes, the number of vehicles imported from Japan between 2016 and 2017 increased from 11,000 to 18,469. That number decreased slightly last year to 17,191, he said.
Director and Vice President of EA Lee Sayer, said the inspections will not cause a longer delay in the delivery of a vehicle purchased in Japan, but could mean, should the vehicle not pass the inspection, that the local buyer would have to renegotiate with the seller in Japan.
President of the Bahamas Motor Dealers Association (BMDA) Fred Albury, who also spoke at the press conference, said some Japanese sellers do not care what kinds of vehicles they export to this market. He said often the odometer in cars are rolled back and vehicles are often exported with extremely rusted undercarriages.
Foulkes said the contract calls for an initial one-year pilot program and comes at no cost to Bahamian taxpayers. The $150 fee for the inspection will be paid by the exporter in Japan.
“As a small island state, we can no longer allow the growing practice of dumping end-of-life vehicles on the side of our roads, or having unroadworthy vehicles endangering the lives of Bahamians,” said Foulkes.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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