There are indications that the Federal Government of Nigeria is already tinkering on lifting ban on the importation of vehicles through the Seme border even as the Nigeria Customs Service and the Benin Republic Customs have created an automated platform that would ensure bilateral connectivity.
DAILY TREND recalls that the Federal Government had, on December 5, 2016, announced a ban on importation of used and new vehicles through land borders with effect from January 1, 2017.
Speaking at a sensitization event in Seme Border yesterday, Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali stated that the decision of government to shut down importation of vehicles through the border was because government does not have a reliable system that would assist in controlling importation.
He however announced that with the new bilateral connectivity with Benin Republic Customs, declarations made for imports transiting from either of the countries will be electronically shared.
He said the process of import and export will now be done at ones, in such a way that their is no repetition of the process.
Ali said “Vehicles where formerly being imported through Seme border, but suddenly it was banned because the pressure of enforcement of anti smuggling for vehicles and claiming of lives and revenue was becoming too alarming, so government had to restrict the importation through Nigerian ports”
“By the time we successfully deploy this reliable, transparent and predictable that would assist government agencies, not only customs, to control and regulate the importation of vehicles, Government may decide to relax such restrictions”
“So the activity we are undertaking here today is to ensure that we are in control of trade operations here, new policies will come by the time we have this system working”
Ali said the establishment of this automated platform and bilateral connectivity means that any truck that leaves Benin Republic, the information is already remotely sent in English to Nigeria Customs Service system.
He also assured that illegal checkpoints mounted by customs officers and other security agencies along the border corridors would disappear automatically when their is a proper agreed platform.
“The roads also has to be fixed because we cannot automate clearing of goods between the Customs and at the end stakeholders would be complaining”
He said the new platform would be deployed by 20th of June 2019.
Ali was represented at the event by Benjamin Aber, Assistant Comptroller General in charge of ICT.