Helmet prices rising amid blame game KARACHI: The Sindh government’s decision to make helmets mandatory for motorcycle riders has driven buyers towards the markets where traders are now cashing in on the rising demand by charging an additional Rs300-400 per helmet.
Owners of roadside stalls in various areas were seen demanding Rs1,000-1,200 for a medium-quality Chinese helmet which was sold for Rs700-800 apiece before the decision. Similarly, a slightly better quality helmet is available at Rs1,300-1,400 which was earlier priced at Rs1,000-1,100.
“We are procuring helmets at higher rates from the wholesalers of Akbar Road and other markets and that is why retail prices have gone up,” retailers in F B Area said.
Substandard, locally produced helmets are now available at Rs600-700. These were previously sold for Rs400-500.
Dealers said the government has made it mandatory for bikers and pillion riders to wear helmets, especially at Sharea Faisal — a signal free corridor with fast paced traffic on most days.
The dealers said many buyers are purchasing helmets fearing that the traffic police may expedite its efforts of imposing a challan of Rs1,000.
Talking to Dawn, dealers at Akbar Road held importers responsible for demanding higher prices. The dealers said they increased prices by Rs100-300 per helmet depending on the quality.
The prices have mainly gone up in the category of ‘most sought after helmets’ available in the price range of Rs700-1,400, while there has been no price change in helmets priced between Rs1,800 to Rs5,000 as they are not in demand, the dealers explained.
Indian helmets with a three-year warranty sell at a price range of Rs3,000-5,000, they added.
“It is better to buy a helmet for less than Rs1,000 instead of paying the same amount in challan to traffic constables, coupled with an additional Rs500 for pillion riders without a helmet,” the dealers said.
Some dealers ruled out any shortage of helmets while others insisted that stockpiling by importers and wholesalers had already started as the market is abuzz with reports that the decision of wearing helmet would be implemented from October 1. Some dealers said the notification had not yet come out as the government has given citizens time to buy helmets.
As demand for helmets soars in winter, dealers are warning about a further increase in prices by Rs150-200 per helmet in case strict implementation comes into force.
Dealers said there were reports that women and children would also be asked to wear helmets but protective headgear for children is not easily available in markets.
Many people, unable to afford, are also searching for used helmets, added dealers.
Traders believe the traffic department would easily meet its revenue targets through challan.
Helmets prices are also under pressure as Director General Customs Valuation after three years issued new valuation rates on August 25 for motorcycle imports ranging between $2.60 to $9.60 per piece, from China and other countries. This is based on the prevailing prices in the world markets.
Customs values for bike helmets (half and full face, and cross shaped) specified shall be assessed to duty/taxes of above customs values. Previous ruling on full face helmet of China was $2.53 per piece while valuation of half face helmet was $2.23.
Import duty on helmet ranges between 16-20 per cent, additional customs duty of 1pc, 17pc sales tax, an additional 3pc sales tax and 6-9pc income tax. For some FTA approved companies/importers, the rate of customs duty is 5pc.
Dealers said they do not have any figures regarding actual import of helmets and its annual consumption, but pointed out that markets are mainly flooded with Chinese helmets.