Auctions of impounded cars organised by Transport Malta have been an abysmal failure as only 10 out of more than 300 vehicles were sold over the last two years, the Times of Malta was told.
Industry sources explained that, more often than not, the vehicles on offer were “overpriced” as the buyer also had to foot the bill for any pending fines and registration tax.
“In 2017, I attended two auctions, which were utter flops. Out of roughly 30 cars on offer each time, only two to four were sold,” a car enthusiast said.
“One of the vehicles on offer was a left-hand drive Porsche but its starting price of €6,000 was prohibitive because apart from paying all seizure, towing and storage costs, as well as the registration tax, the car needed extensive repairs,” he added.
The ‘unwanted’ cars end up being destroyed as Transport Malta does not have enough storage facilities.
According to official figures, the regulator impounded 637 cars since 2017, which translates to almost one every day.
“These cars are seized following reports or during patrols,” a Transport Malta spokesman said.
Such action was taken in cases when the owners failed to regularise their position by accumulating road licence arrears or whenever the cars posed a danger, especially those whose owner could not be traced, he added.
Once seized, the cars are taken to Transport Malta’s compound and their owner would still have the right to reclaim them once any pending registration tax (in case of foreign-registered cars), fines and penalties were settled.
This could explain why only 266 cars, or fewer than half of the vehicles seized since 2017, were reclaimed.
As for the rest of the cars, Transport Malta said 321 vehicles went under the hammer, with just 10 being sold. The others were destroyed by authorised so-called ‘treatment facilities’. Another 50 cars at the transport watchdog’s compound are due to be auctioned or else were the subject of legal proceedings.
Transport Malta’s spokesman pointed out that, since 2017, the regulator had increased the number of enforcement officers to crack down on unauthorised cars on Maltese roads.
Nevertheless, tracing the owner of a foreign-registered car, who may still be of Maltese nationality, remains a long shot for the authorities, including the police.
This is proving to be very frustrating, especially for law-abiding citizens, for example when applying for a temporary no-parking permit in front of a residence and a vehicle happens to be parked there.
One such case was recently reported in Gżira, when a resident vented her anger on Facebook after finding herself unable to carry out works, despite having all the necessary permits in hand for a crane to be used.
The obstacle, she claimed, arose because of a foreign-registered car with an expired road licence that was blocking the front of her residence. After contacting the police, she was told she would have to wait several days for the car to be removed.
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