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WITH the commencement of the policy banning importation of vehicles through the land borders by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, many vehicles are trapped at the borders, according to the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Seme Chapter.
Bisiriyu Danu, chairman of ANLCA, said that as at Friday, December 30, 2016, the Customs authorities asked the agents to stop payment of Customs duty on vehicles by 5p.m. Danu said the association was not aware of any circular counter to the ban.
He said so many vehicles not cleared by Customs agents were as at last week trapped at the ports of neighbouring countries.
The Customs agent said the association went into dialogue with some government representatives to grant a three-month grace period. Danu said the grace period would enable ships carrying vehicles to berth for clearance before implementation of the ban. He said the ban would render many car dealers around Badagry and environs idle and this could be a dangerous trend.
Sam Maduike, a major car stakeholder in Seme, pleaded with the federal government to lift the ban. “The policy is going to bring untold hardship to the masses as the average Nigerians cannot afford to buy a brand new car,” he said.
Also, Lucky Amiwero, president, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, that the federal government should inaugurate a committee to look critically into the implications of the ban on vehicle imports. He said government should also look at effect of the ban on the lives of Customs officers because there would be increase in smuggling. Amiwero said a question that should also be asked is: “Are Nigerian Ports friendly to accept vehicles?” He urged government to address the high cost of doing business in Nigerian ports.
Contrarily, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, supports the ban. Stanley Ezenga, national publicity secretary, NAGAFF, told NAN that the association’s support was borne out of the economic benefits that the policy would bring to the nation.
A statement on Tuesday, January 3, by Joseph Attah, Customs Deputy Public Relations Officer, quoted Hameed Ali, Comptroller-General of NCS, as reiterating the federal government ban on importation of rice and vehicles through the land borders. He urged officers and men of the service to ensure maximum collection of revenue and strict implementation of government’s fiscal policy.
Selechang Taupyen, public relations officer of the NCS, Seme Command, told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Badagry that the service had to comply with government’s fiscal policy. Taupyen said the command’s officials had been placed at strategic places to curb any form of smuggling of cars. The federal government had on December 5, 2016, placed a ban on importation of used and new vehicles through land borders with effect from January 1, 2017.
“The federal government has directed that importation of cars through the land borders should be banned and we are the agency that would enforce it. So, we have started with that. The border is close to the point of importation of cars and the command has placed its men and escorts at strategic places to ensure that there is no smuggling of cars through the border.
“We also have a good working relationship and synergy with other security agencies, which assist us in enforcing this policy because we all work for the same government. We advise the public to abide by the government policy and if they must purchase a car, then it should come through the seaport as any vehicle that tries to come through the land border would be seized and confiscated. Violators of the law would face the full wrath of the law,” he said.
Taupyen noted that the policy was meant to encourage local production of vehicles. “The public must look at the long term benefit of this policy as this would help in encouraging local production of vehicles and it would boost the economy,” he said.
— Jan 16, 2017 @ 01:00 GMT
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