x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Khalifa postpones banning of old cars

Owners of cars older than 20 years will be able to keep their vehicles following orders by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE.

Abu Dhabi // Owners of cars more than 20 years old will be able to keep their vehicles following a decree by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, postponing a law banning them. Authorities had been scheduled to enforce the new regulation from today. The indefinite postponement is likely to be a relief to thousands of car owners, many on low incomes. Some of these owners would have been forced to surrender their cars to scrap shops today if they had been scheduled for re-registration. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, the Interior Minister, said yesterday that the President's order gave people with low incomes time to find alternative means of transport. The National Transport Authority said more than 140,000 vehicles across the country would have been affected by the ban, which was announced earlier this year. Sheikh Saif said the President's instructions came "in the right time so that concerned authorities undertake more studies", and that it would give more time to come up with a unified set of regulations. "This would guarantee more effectiveness when the regulations are implemented," he said. The presidential decree did not touch on other regulations that will take effect as of Jan 2009, including a ban on transferring the ownership of cars older than 10 years. At least 420,000 cars fall under this category. This regulation has proved just as controversial as owners of vehicles older than 10 years would not be able to sell their cars should they want to leave the country. The only option they would be left with is either to export the car to another country with less stringent regulations or to dispose of it. As of Jan 2010, more than 320,000 cars older than 15 years were also due to be taken off the road. However, it was unclear if that deadline will now change as well. The Government says the aim of such regulations is to reduce worsening environment pollution. To this end, the Interior Ministry plans to cut the levels of allowable carbon monoxide and other fuel emissions over the next few years. Official figures show there are currently about 1.8 million cars throughout the Emirates, suggesting the country has one of the highest rates of car ownership per head of population in the world. mhabboush@thenational.ae