Fresh indications have shown that 90% of vehicles imported through Nigerian vehicle terminals are accidented, flood ravaged vehicles emanating from Asia, Europe and America.
Investigations by DAILY TREND NEWS showed that importers and vehicle dealers are further attracted to these kind of vehicles because they get to pay less duty to the Nigeria Customs Service (duty rebate) and secondly, the trend is encouraged by the failed Automotive Policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Sources at the two major vehicle terminals in Lagos, Port and Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML) and Five Star Terminals alleged that Nigeria Customs officers, especially those at the Car park ‘C’ at Tin Can Port, are now taking advantage of the loophole in the government fiscal policy and are now enriching themselves.
Speaking with our correspondent, a Licensed Customs Agent, Chijioke Agim said “importation of damaged vehicles have not stopped, it is now the order of the day. If you go to Five Star Logistics Terminal, PTML, you will not find new vehicles there”
Under the Auto Policy of government, vehicles are expected to pay 70% tariff on vehicles; 35% duty and 35% levy.
In a recent chat with our correspondent, Chief Supretendent of Customs Uche Ejesieme explained that for any vehicle to enjoy rebate as accidented, physical examination is conducted by Customs authorities to ascertain the level of damage.
Ejesieme who is the image maker of Tin Can Island Port Command of Nigeria Customs Service said “We have discovered that often time, people tend to misconstrue the concept of accidented and dented vehicles.
In Customs parlance, before any vehicle can be classified as accidented, there are some factors that must be looked into; first of all, that accident must be seen to have affected the chassis, secondly, the impact of the accident should also have the tendency of popping out the airbag, but what is more crucial is the chassis, once an accident happens and it affects the chassis, in Customs parlance it is regarded as accidented”
“You can also Google the chassis number of the vehicle if you are doubting any abnormality, some of the American vehicles, if you google their chassis number, you are also going to get the history of the vehicle, the type of accident and so on”
“Dented vehicles on the other hand are vehicles with small bashes around the bumper, fenders, doors, without any serious impact that could affect the chassis. These kind of cars do not merit any kind of rebate from Customs, but the ones that are accidented, they pay half of the duty accruable on the fully built cars, but before we grant that concession, there must be physical examination to ascertain that the vehicle actually qualifies”
“When you are getting the ex-factory price from valuation unit, they must go for physical examination to also ascertain that you are qualified for it”
Ejesieme however debunked the allegations that officers of the command were actually releasing fully built vehicles under the guise of being accidented. He said the command has not received any empirically verifiable evidence to show that an officer has compromised.
The Customs image maker told our correspondent that the dangerous trend of importing damaged vehicles has had zero effect on the revenue base of the command.
According to him, “In terms of revenue, I wouldn’t want to be very categorical, if you look at the revenue profile of Tin Can, you would see that we are actually not doing badly. Last year we got N343 billion representing 98% of the total revenue estimate that was given to us”
“From what we have done this year so far, we are not doing badly, despite the myriads of challenges”
On the other hand however, Managing Director of the biggest Roll On-Roll-Off vehicle terminal in Nigeria, PTML Terminal, Mr Tunde Keshinro has warned that the continuous importation of accidented and flood ravaged vehicles could have an environmental effect.
Keshinro told our correspondent that “We should address our mind to the fact that these old vehicles add to the environmental issues, we are in the age of climate change and we must as a country be concerned about the quality of vehicles we are bringing into our environment, noting fully well that the projection of the government is to promote a sustainable environment, so we much achieve balance, we should not just be imposing duty and tariffs without being mindful of how it affects our collective well being”
He said that the terminal has observed a sharp increase in importation of damaged, accidented and relatively low grade vehicles compared to what it used to handle in year 2012 and 2013 prior to the implementation of the Automotive Policy.
He blamed the trend of accidented vehicles on the high Customs duty and tariff that came with the auto policy.
He said “The high duty was still there, and for people to be able to cope with the product which is used vehicles, they had to play with the low-end purchases from the countries of origin and this had to do with salvaged vehicles, and these are equally older models rather than newer models, relatively, majority of the vehicles being imported are less than 2010 as year of manufacture, we expect to see newer vehicles of 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018, and when I look at the set of vehicles coming into the country in terms of age, you would see few 2017, 2018 vehicles, they now appear to be for the super rich and this shouldn’t be”
Speaking in the same vein, Director General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Mr. Muda Yusuf said it is not good to allow Nigerian environment to be a dumping ground for all sorts of vehicles.
“I think the machinery for compliance should be effective and there should also be consequences for those who should ensure compliance, when they are not doing that, there should be consequences”
“It is a safety and environment issue because when you bring vehicles that are too old to the system, I mean it creates safety problems for citizens. Some of these vehicles people use as commercial vehicles and all sorts of things, the vehicles are already in a very bad state but because people who are supposed to ensure compliance are not doing their work, all sorts of rickety thing will be coming into the country”
On his part, former president of Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN) Dr. Frank Ukor said the duty rebate enjoyed on damaged vehicles was responsible for the influx of accidented cars.
He said these are the kind of cars Nigerians can afford to bring in, so that they can own cars.
He said “If they bring in latest vehicles, like 2017-2018 for instance, how many Nigerians can afford it? So that is the problem. They bring in vehicles that they can afford to clear and buy”