Motoring (Maritime)Nigeria is losing not less than N800 million annually as a result of high import duties on vehicles imported into the country, the President, Shippers’ Association, Lagos State, Jonathan Nicol, has said.

The high import duty was part of the provisions of the National Auto Policy, aimed at encouraging local production of vehicles.

Among other things, the policy provides for a 70 per cent tariff on vehicles imported into the country.

Nicol said rather than helping the country, the policy is impacting negatively on the maritime industry in particular and the economy as a whole.

He therefore called on the federal government to discontinue the implementation of the provisions of the policy “until Nigeria is ripe enough to produce her own vehicles.”

According to Nicol, some of the terminals dedicated to handling of car importation are going under because of low patronage, resulting from the implementation of the policy.

He specifically cited the case of Ports and Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML) known for vehicle imports, saying it is no longer receiving as many Roll-on-Roll-Off (RORO) vessels as it used to prior to the implementation of the policy.

He decried the losses the country and its people are recording, saying most importers no longer import vehicles into Nigeria but  are using the port situated in the neighbouring countries, especially the Cotonou port.

He stated that the nation’s seaports were almost empty as a result of the national automotive policy.

“70 per cent tariff on cars is too expensive,” he said.

Nicol said the auto policy should immediately be reversed to attract many of the cars being lost to ports of neighbouring countries.

He said, “We should think of protecting local car manufacturers and assembly plants but this should be gradual.

“What we want is standards. If Nigerians decided to be helping their families by bringing fairly used cars why should the government not encourage these families?

“Government should look at other maritime laws, restrictions and prohibition and reverse them.”

By Pita Ochai

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