Terminal operators in the country have thrown their weight behind the Federal Government ban on the importation of vehicles into the country through the land borders.
The terminal operators under the aegis of the Sea Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) through its Chairman, Mrs. Victoria Haastrup said the ban will achieve the desired results if it is well implemented.
Haastrup spoke on the heels of the recent ban which was announced by the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Alhaji Adewale Adeniyi.
Adeniyi, an Assistant Comptroller, in a statement Customs Public Relations Officers, Wale Adeniyi, confirmed the ban in a statement said: “Importation of vehicles into Nigeria through the land borders have been banned by the Federal Government. The prohibition order covers all new and used vehicles. The ban is equal to a Presidential Directive restricting all vehicle imports to Nigeria to seaports only. The order takes effect from 1st January 2017. The restriction of importation of vehicles follows that of rice, whose imports have been banned through the land borders since April 2016. Importers of vehicles through the land borders are requested to utilise the grace period up till 31st December 2016 to clear their vehicle imports landed in neighbouring ports.”
But Haastrup argued that the ban will not only minimise vehicle smuggling across Nigerian land borders but also revive the operations of Roll-On-Roll-Off (RORO) terminals in the country.
Haastrup who is also the Executive Vice Chairman, ENL Consortium Limited, the concessionaire for Terminal C, in the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, enjoined the government to take a step further by scrapping the high import duty regime imposed on vehicles in 2013 by the immediate past administration.
Her words: “We are confident of the ability of President Muhammadu Buhari to turn the economy around. The earlier ban on importation of rice and now of vehicles, through the land borders is a welcome development. We are happy that the President has listened to our appeal to reverse incongruous policies inherited by his government from the former administration and which have deprived Nigerian ports of cargoes to the advantage of the ports of neighbouring countries.
“In addition to this ban through the land borders, we appeal to the President to return the import duties on vehicles to 20 per cent from the prohibitive 70 per cent tariff imposed by the former administration. The reversal to the old tariff will serve as an incentive for Nigerians to import legitimately through the seaports and make appropriate payments to government. This will boost revenue collection by the Nigeria Customs Service. It will also lead to the return of lost jobs at the affected ports.
We also appeal to Customs officers at the border posts to support the Federal Government and the NCS leadership by ensuring that no smuggled vehicle finds its way into the country through the land borders from 1st January 2017 when the new policy is expected to come into effect”.