ABUJA: As the ban of importation of vehicles through land borders into the country takes effect from January 1,2017, auto dealers, importers and clearing agents have told the federal government to prepare for high scale smuggling of vehicles into the country.
Clearing agents, auto dealers who are importers of both used and new vehicles through the land borders of the country said since there was high demand of the vehicles in Nigeria, smuggling will be high to meet the local demands.
Investigation by LEADERSHIP during the week had shown that the high Customs Duty on imported and used vehicles at the nation’s seaports would drive Nigerian importers to neighboring countries and allow them take to smuggling to bring it into the country.
Recall that the current hike in import duty on vehicles in 2014 from 10 per cent to 35 per cent with an additional surcharge of 35 per cent, bringing the total tariff to 70 per cent, has negatively impacted operations at the port and led to massive revenue and job loss.
Experts told LEADERSHIP that the import duty hike has however led to the diversion of vessels carrying vehicles to the ports of neighbouring West African countries, thereby boosting operations in those ports especially the Port of Cotonou – at the expense of Nigerian ports.
It was gathered that presently, Nigerian ports have lost about 80 per cent of vehicle cargoes as a result of the hike.
Speaking on how the ban would fuel smuggling, the National President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Olayiwola Shittu said the ban on importation of all new and used vehicles will increase smuggling of vehicles across the land borders.
He said: ‘‘With this policy, the Customs will have more work to do because smuggling will definitely go up.”
Also speaking, the Chairman, Association of Motor Dealers in Nigeria, Lagos Chapter, Metchie Nnadiekwe said the ban will fuel smuggling and increase crime rate.
“Smuggling will increase because the vehicles must come into Nigeria. I believe it was an ill conceived idea by the government because if they had wanted the ban to work, they should have provided an alternative,’’he said.