(CMR) Cabinet has approved the Customs and Border Control Prohibited Goods Amended Order (2023), which will see a new import restriction on some vehicles older than seven years effective today, May 1, Premier Hon. Wayne Panton has announced.
“This is the first in a series of actions to try to help improve road safety issues, try to help manage the traffic congestion issues, and obviously the negative impacts on our quality of life that develop particularly at peak commute times,” Mr. Panton said.
He said this decision was not made blindly, but data was used to make this decision. Premier Panton explained that from 2012 to 2022, 39,267 vehicles were imported into the Cayman Islands, with 23,953 cars imported in the last five years, a 30 percent increase over the first five years. Statistics also revealed that there is a higher importation of vehicles over 10 years old.
“What we are obviously trying to do will slow down the rate of importation of cars; we will reduce the number of older cars that are coming in. Yes, I know they are cheaper cars, but part of the problem is, you have a lot of these ‘deportees' that come from other jurisdictions where they have existing life limits in place on vehicles, and they end up getting imported here,” Mr. Panton said.
He said many of these vehicles, while relatively inexpensive, pose a challenge to get parts for them; as a result, they are hard to maintain and keep on the road and become disposable. These vehicles then end up being abandoned for Government to dispose of. He also pointed out there are safety issues around some of these vehicles, which are often not checked to ensure they are in good working order.
There will be exemptions for specific vehicles, such as those used for agriculture, engineering, maintenance, construction, and collectibles.
Persons already in the process of acquiring vehicles older than seven years or whose vehicles are already in transition will be allowed to complete the importation once documentation can be provided to show it was acquired before the new law is implemented.
Speaking on the current traffic situation in Grand Cayman, Premier Panton encouraged carpooling to help reduce traffic. He pointed out that between 6 and 10 am daily, there are approximately 8000 cars going by Grand Habour. He said if this is reduced by 1000, that would make a significant impact.
The Premier also said that work is being done for an expandable and reliable public transport system that will make fewer people, especially those on work permits, see the need to buy private vehicles.
“This solution is aimed at reducing traffic congestion and at increasing the fuel efficiency, emission standards, and overall safety of vehicles on our roads. The increase in the number of older cars also increases dangerous emissions as older vehicles are less fuel-efficient and more likely to cause air pollution,” Premier Panton concluded.