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Zimbabwe border posts prepare for radiation control

by Staff reporter
09 Dec 2020 at 05:46hrs | Views
THE Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe is setting up shop at the country's ports of entry to enforce the new Government requirements on vehicle imports.

Under the new regulations, (S1 281 of 2020) cited as the Radiation Protection (Safety and Security of Radiation Sources) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (No. 5), imports of second-hand vehicles more than 10 years old are to be banned next year, to contain the import bill and promote the domestic motor industry.

Additionally, vehicles imported from Japan now require prior clearance to ensure they are not contaminated by radioactivity from the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant following an earthquake. Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube recently announced the new import rules during the 2021 National Budget presentation.

Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe spokesperson, Mr Chamunorwa Murava said they will soon be having inspectors to check on conformity issues at Beitbridge Border Post. He said they have a team to carry out feasibility studies at Chirundu Border Post and that the crew will soon move to Plumtree on a similar task.

"Government on 27 November gazetted Statutory Instrument 281 of 2020 which compels those importing vehicles from any country that will have experienced size four plus nuclear disaster to adhere to a new set of rules," said Mr Murava.

"In this case we have the Fukushima disaster that occurred in Japan in 2011. Most of Zimbabwe vehicle imports come from Japan. So, we are now operationalising that legal instrument at Beitbridge, which will be our pilot port of entry. This will be rolled out to all borders in due course."

Mr Murava said the vehicles will be tested for radioactive debris. He said they would start at Beitbridge where most vehicle imports coming through South Africa are processed. It is understood that at least 200 mostly pre-owned vehicles from Japan arrive through Beitbridge daily.

"The idea is to give people assurance that they are safe in terms of protection from radiation. You are aware there are concerns on diseases related to radiation. We just want to make sure that the comfort of knowing the car is inspected and is safe," said Mr Murava.

Most diseases related/caused by radiation exposure include all cancers, non-malignant thyroid nodular disease, parathyroid adenoma, posterior subcapsular cataracts, and tumors of the brain and central nervous system.

When vehicles arrive at Transit-Shed, he said, the authority will inspect them and issue clearance certificates to importers on site.

The official said they had since had engagements with Transit-Shed operators and that they were forthcoming. He said some of them (Transit-Shed owners) had offered them offices within their yards to make the vehicles' customs clearance process seamless.

"Where we find traces of radiation on the respective vehicles, we isolate and decontaminate on site. This is done to avoid inconveniencing the importers. However, this service (Inspections and decontamination) will be done for a minimal fee as outlined in the legal instrument," said Mr Murava.

According to the instrument, importers will pay US$10 for contamination inspection for light motor vehicles and minibuses and US$20 for buses, heavy vehicles, haulage trucks and trailers.

In de-contamination of vehicles, importers of light motor vehicle and minibuses will pay US$50 while such a service for buses, heavy vehicles, haulage trucks and trailers is pegged at US$100. The fees maybe be payable in Zimbabwe dollars at the prevailing rate of the day.

"Any person who does not comply with the regulations or who makes a false statement or declaration or falsifies any documents concerning the country of origin of a vehicle shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level 5 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or both such fine and such imprisonment," reads part of the regulations.

In 2011, Government banned the import of vehicles more than five years old, although the ban was later reversed following an outcry from the public.

Source - chronicle