Submitted by Curtis Johnson
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ two main revenue earners are agriculture and tourism. As a very mountainous island whose best natural resources are fertile soil and beautiful beaches and
surrounding seas, we do not have the resources to manufacture vehicles. So how does a country of 110,000 people, which lacks the resources to produce vehicles, have over 30,000 in usage? You guessed it, through importation. Every month, a vessel is fondly known as “the car boat” arrives at the Kingstown wharf filled with vehicles for Vincentians. You would not believe that St. Vincent is a country whose GDP has been in deficit for the past several years. In fact, vehicular importation has increased in comparison with years where the GDP was significantly better. This is not solely because of an increase in the amount of people with higher education receiving higher paying jobs.
Or that vehicles have gotten cheaper. By my observation, the two main determinants for vehicular demand are the convenience of having a vehicle, and the perks that are offered by the various shipping agencies.
It’s not rocket science that vehicular accessibility has great advantages, with convenience being the greatest one. Having access to vehicles eliminates the inconsistency which plagues most public transit systems and provides a way of shortening the possibility of a serious situation becoming detrimental. However, the convenience of vehicular accessibility in St. Vincent and the Grenadines could not have been possible without importation. The importation of vehicles has greatly improved the standard of living and quality of life of many Vincentians. It gives business owners an effective method of delivering their products and services and private owners with the chance to learn a skill that can be used around the world, i.e driving. In addition to their convenience, the perks being offered by shipping agencies have also been observed to drive the demand for motor vehicles.
Shipping a vehicle internationally is not the cheapest feat. As a result, to make the process more attractive, shipping agencies have included perks with the shipment of a vehicle. These perks may include free cleaning and buffing for used vehicles or free tire changes for more expensive ones. Some companies have gone as far as offering oil changes and servicing to their customers. Due to the high volume of vehicular importation into St. Vincent and the Grenadines, there has been an emergence of shipping agencies. This has proven beneficial to customers as it increases competition and thus, promotes greater choices and better perks. The importation of vehicles also allows customers the ability to have their dream vehicles. Several years ago, my aunt, who was close to retirement, decided to treat herself to a brand new SUV. This would have been impossible has it not been for car shipment.
While the increased importation of vehicles into St. Vincent and the Grenadines erect several
drawbacks, chief among them, pollution and increased traffic, I can assure you that this is very
unlikely to stop. However, with government regulations controlling the age and type of vehicles
which can be imported, shipping agencies still have their job cut out for them. While convenience and perks may be among the top determinants, experiences and costs are also significant. The onus is therefore on the agencies to supply an unbeatable service, as long as they want to succeed.
Submitted by Curtis Johnson
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