Colombia’s government is considering a bill that could put a limit on new car sales, which are booming, in an effort to alleviate growing traffic woes, according to a report Wednesday in the leading daily El Tiempo.
The plan, laid out by the Ministry of Transportation in a bill to be sent to Congress, would allow a person to buy a new car only after they receive special approval from the government through an auction. Deputy Minister Felipe Targa said customers purchasing a new car might also have to turn in their old car, according to the newspaper.
It wasn’t clear when the bill might be presented to lawmakers. Officials at the Transportation Ministry weren’t immediately available for comment.
Colombia sold a record 254,000 new automobiles last year and will smash that record in 2011, with sales likely to reach 320,000. A stronger local currency against the dollar has brought down the price of new cars, and combined with a healthy economy, the country has seen a huge increase in cash-ready consumers able to afford their own vehicle.
The government hasn’t met the sharp increase in car sales with new freeway construction or other infrastructure projects that could handle all the new cars. As such, clogged arteries have become common throughout the country’s main cities.
Bogota, the capital, tried to fix its traffic problems by making it illegal for drivers to use their vehicle two days each week. That led many drivers to buy two vehicles, making the problem worse.
Ricardo Salazar, general manager of the Los Coches car dealership, told El Tiempo the government proposal to restrict car sales is “absurd,” and said it would stunt badly-needed economic growth and create more unemployment.