Over the last 12 months we have witnessed a disconcerting increase in the amount of illicit trading activity taking place in the retail automotive sector. This ranges from parts that do not adhere to a specific standard and therefore not fit for purpose, proliferating the market, illicit trading in tyres, to informal and illegal street mechanics who are pilfering work from legitimate registered businesses and operating outside of the confines of the law.
This growing culture of regulatory non-compliance in the automotive aftermarket is not only creating an uneven playing field for many accredited business owners in the sector, but also placing consumers at risk – and is in fact illegal.
The objective of the RMI is to promote, protect and encourage the interests of members and the motoring public by setting and maintaining proper standards of service, and ethical trading conditions in the industry. This talks directly to the importance of regulatory compliance so that we are aware of, and take steps to comply with relevant laws, policies, and regulations and to make sure we always act responsibly and within the ambit of the law.
The flip side of compliance is self-regulation, ensuring we are continually aware of what is going on around us. While we must endeavour to work as closely as we can with law enforcement agencies and other regulatory bodies, we cannot rely on them to provide a complete solution to the problems being experienced in the sector. It is very encouraging to see the proactive steps many of the RMI’s associations are taking in this regard. In the petroleum sector, SAPRA for example, has had much success in creating awareness through its hotline, and the fines, penalties and suspensions implemented by the authorities have made activity by illicit operators significantly harder. TEPA is following suit with a TEPA Whistle-blower hotline which it believes will also make a significant impact on curbing illicit trade.
The RMI encourages each of its members to prioritise compliance and self-regulation in an effort to create a cleaner, safer and more equitable business environment.