…NPA Promises to Mediate as Port Regulator
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Following expiration of the 72-Hours strike notice issued by all registered freight forwarding associations operating at the PTML Terminal in Lagos last week over the anomalies surrounding the newly introduced Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Valuation System policy of the Nigeria Customs Service, the Comptroller General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali appears to have snubbed the aggrieved agents.
This is even as the freight forwarding associations today (Monday) commenced a protest at the Tin Can Island Port and PTML Terminals over the VIN Valuation policy of the customs.
There are indications that commercial activities would be crippled for the rest of the day as the agents Monday morning have sealed off the popular Car Park C at the Tin Can Island Port.
The freight forwarding associations which came together last week to issue the strike notice include; Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN) and APFFLON and IFFA.
The annoyances of the freight forwarders was that cars are now stranded at the port due to failure of the new customs valuation system to generate accurate value payable on imported cars.
They complained about the flaws in the new customs valuation system, saying that there was no consideration for rebate and depreciation value in the valuation being issued on imported cars.
Speaking with our correspondent, Chairman of ANLCA at PTML Terminal, Elder Oluwole Obey said that up till now, the letter written to the customs CG have not been replied, neither has he reached out or give assurances to the agents.
He however admitted that the Customs Area Comptroller in charge of PTML Command, Compt Festus Okun made an attempt last Thursday to placate the freight forwarders on the new VIN Valuation platform.
“Compt Okun called us on Thursday and appealed to us over the VIN Valuation, he said the letter had gone to the CGC with the believe that he would answer us speedily
“By Monday if we don’t hear from the authorities, we would call our people to withdraw their service from the ports, that all.
There won’t be any crisis or any protests, we would just withdraw our services until the system is changed” he vowed
According to the ANLCA Chairman, the freight forwarders are not really against introduction of the VIN Valuation, he said it is a noble concept that would end corruption in the system of vehicle clearance.
He however complained that customs failed to carry out due diligence before implementation of the policy, adding that the value being issued to be paid on imported vehicles have risen by almost 300percent.
Speaking, he said “Nobody is against the VIN Valuation, we are looking at the end user of these cargoes, by the time they start selling a Camry of N1.5million for N5million, who would want to buy it? It is the pricing on the platform we are against, not the VIN policy itself” he said
Also speaking with our correspondent on Monday morning, spokesman of ANLCA at PTML Chapter, Mr Ayokunle Sulaiman said there is a scheduled protest at PTML Terminal today, followed by withdrawal of service.
Meanwhile at the Tin Can Port, one of the freight associations; National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents wrote to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) informing of today’s protest.
In a letter signed by NPA’s Port Security officer, Mr Albert Onyeka, a copy of which was sighted by DAILY TREND NEWS, the NPA said it is willing to assist in meaningfully resolving the impasse with customs in its capacity as a regulator.
It stated that “NPA security department and port authority police are earnestly monitoring the protest to ensure that the port remains peaceful ”
The Customs VIN Valuation is a system that uses artificial intelligence to allocate appropriate values and taxes payable on imported vehicles by using Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at the trader’s zone.
Speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS, Task Force Chairman of ANLCA at Tin Can Port, Alhaji Rilwan Amuni said that the strike action is going to be total, adding that all the freight associations are acting on same page.