Malaysia is moving closer to a radical government policy setting a maximum lifespan for motor vehicles on public highways.

The vehicle-scrappage policy now under study would allow the Ministry of Transport to determine the lifespan of vehicles on the road. The proposal would include incentives for the owners of vehicles nearing the end of that lifespan.

“This policy is crucial because there are many old vehicles that are still in use,” Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai tells The Star newspaper in a report published on the ministry’s website.

The government’s Bernama news agency reports the study is in the final stage.

“We have not set a deadline to implement the policy because we know it involves various other matters and amending the transport laws,” Liow is quoted as telling reporters.

For the policy to take effect, Liow says the law would have to be changed to allow the Road Transport Dept. to terminate a vehicle’s registration once its lifespan was up.

“We are looking into the possibility of offering incentives to people to bring their vehicles in to be recycled at the Department of Environment,” Liow says. “This policy has been introduced in many other countries and some offer cash incentives, while some offer discounts for owners to buy a new vehicle.”

The vehicle end-of-life proposal first was raised in 2009 but made little progress after International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed said the public was not ready for such a scheme.

Liow says attitudes have changed.

“Local governments have urged the ministry to do it fast, as this would help solve the problem of many old cars abandoned by the roadside,” he says. “Abandoned old cars would lead to many other problems, like becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes and consequently, an increased incidence of dengue cases.

“We may give rebates or cash to them who are ready to end their vehicles, and to us, it is the best way to reduce the number of old vehicles on the road,” he says.