Since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraqi car dealers have been swarming to the Jordanian border to snap up stock because there are no custom officials to make them pay import duties.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraqi car dealers have been swarming to the Jordanian border to snap up stock because there are no custom officials to make them pay import duties.

In just a few hours, Ahmad Jomaa bought 40 vehicles in Zarqa, a car dealers' haven in the desert outside Amman, which has seen Iraqi buyers by the dozen over the past two weeks.

"Thanks be to God. We no longer have to pay the $1 500 (just over R11 000) in custom duties or any import taxes to the Iraqi authorities now that there is no longer a government in Iraq," Jomaa said.

"Now I only have to pay the price of the car and drive it back to Baghdad," he said.

Jordanian Amer Jayussi considers Jomaa and other prospective buyers a godsend that has helped bolster the sluggish business in Zarqa: "If business continues this way there won't be a car left on my lot. We've never seen anything like it.

"The Iraqi dealers carry huge wads of dollars. I don't know where they get it from," Jayussi added.

Buyers include certified Iraqi car dealers who have come to make a deal in Jordan as well as those with residency permits in the kingdom or Iraqis heading back home, whose appetite for cars of all shapes and sizes has no limits.

In one day last week, Jayussi said he had sold a record 12 cars, while many of his competitors were reporting an equally brisk business. Since the fall of the Baghdad regime on April 9, the import of cars into Iraq has become as easy as pie.

"I registered the 40 cars I bought in the names of brothers and cousins, since Jordanian laws only allow one car per buyer," said Joma, who added that he had spent the equivalent of between R14 600 and R21 900 on each car he bought.

"I'll make a $500 (R3 650) profit on each vehicle," he said.

Hussein, another Iraqi with Jordanian residency, said he had bought 15 cars and paid some of his compatriots who were planning to return home to use their names on the registration documents.

"I handed each of the men $200 (R1 460)," said Hussein.

At Trebil, on the Iraqi side of the border, US troops controlling the checkpoint abandoned by the former regime "examine the documents, but don't demand any customs duties," Hussein said.

Both Hussein and Jomaa are also confident they will find customers quickly once they return to Iraq.

"I will sell these cars as soon as I go back. I won't wait for the new government," said Jomaa. “There is a big business to be done in Iraq and a lot of money in Iraqi hands to be spent".