Government has been encouraged to reconsider its deadline for the removal of lead from petrol in South Africa and opt for a phased introduction instead.

Government has been encouraged to reconsider its January 1 2006 deadline for the removal of lead from petrol in South Africa and opt for a phased introduction instead.

Tony Twine, a director of Econometrix, said the deadline was premature and unleaded petrol should be phased in beyond the current deadline. He said that the vehicle population would be unable to accommodate the enforced use of unleaded petrol by the deadline.

According to Twine, the removal of lead would cost between R13 billion and R15 billion and impact inflation as well as increase the price of petrol for motorists.

Twine said that research done by his company into catalytic converters had shown that there was no significant environmental benefit to be gained from the January 1 2006 deadline.

Based on the estimated survival percentage of South African vehicles and projected new vehicle sales, Econometrix estimated that only 14 per cent of the car population and very few light commercial vehicles would be equipped with catalytic converters by January 1 2006 according to .