Managing Director, PTML Terminal, Ascanio Russo has raised fresh concerns over the diversion of Nigeria-bound vessels laden with vehicles to Benin Republic due to Federal Government’s auto policy which increase the levy on imported vehicles.
Russo who expressed his worries over the situation when the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi visited the terminal on Monday, December 14, during his familiarization tour of the ports in Lagos appealed to the minister to help address the issue.
He said the implementation of the auto policy has been of high concern to the management of the terminal as most vehicles meant for Nigeria are now diverted to Cotonou port and has thus affected the price of imported vehicles.
He advised that all vehicles imported into Nigeria should come through the seaport and not through the land borders because of its porous nature.
“We are of the opinion that vehicles should be allowed to be Customs-released in Nigeria only if they are discharged at Nigerian port and not at the borders. So any importer who wants to clear vehicles for Nigeria should do so at a Customs command in Nigerian port and not at the border,” he said.
Responding, the Amaechi promised that the government would look into the issue but noted that part of the remedy will not be to remove the duty on imported vehicles.
He said government would enhance security and ensure adequate protection of the border posts with the support of the Nigeria Customs Service in order to curtail smuggling of vehicles.
Amaechi noted that one of the objectives of the auto policy was to conserve the country’s scarce foreign exchange which, according to him, is higher than any loss of revenue which must have resulted from the diversion of vessels to ports of neighbouring countries.
“What you should ask government to do is to protect our borders to ensure that the goods smuggled in through the borders are not allowed. Part of the remedy will not be to remove the duty on imported vehicles but to enhance security of the border posts to ensure that all vehicles coming into the country come through the appropriate channel,” he said.
By Pita Ochai