Even though the federal government had in 2010 raised the age limit of vehicles to be imported into the country from 10 years to 15 years, fresh indications have shown that the Nigeria Customs Service is deliberately violating this trade policy of the federal government by clearing older vehicles from the ports.
Going by the government directive, vehicles manufactured in 2004 and below are not supposed to be cleared by the Customs.
But investigations by Shipping Position Daily at two biggest vehicle terminals in Lagos; PTML Terminal and Five Star Logistics Terminal, as well as Berger Auto Market Apapa have revealed that 70% of the vehicles coming into the country are in violation of government laws,; notwithstanding, the vehicles still find their way into the various automobile markets.
General Manager of PTML Terminal, Mr Tunde Keshinro confirmed to Shipping Position Daily that the terminal is flooded with more of damaged, accidented and relatively low grade vehicles compared to what were being imported in years 2012 and 2013, which was prior to the implementation of the federal government automobile policy.
Keshinro said that importers now import low grade, salvaged vehicles, and these are equally older models rather than newer models. He said, relatively, majority of the vehicles being imported are less than 2010 as their 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", he noted.
A close source at the Tin Can Island Customs Command told our correspondent last week that Customs officers at PTML and Tin Can Port were clearing vehicles of 2003, 2004, and that they do it as a compromise. He alleged that these cars form the highest percentage of the vehicles at Five Star Logistics Terminal.
According to him, "the reason customs deliberately flout the directive is because these young clearing agents you see at the port, this is what they are using to feed. At the end of clearing one vehicle, the highest money they make is N8,000 and three of them are sharing it"
"Many of these vehicles are used for commercial purpose while some are sent to aged parents in the village.
“Most of the ‘Uber’ vehicles you see today are vehicles of 2003, 2004; you cannot buy a vehicle of 2007, 2008 for the purpose of Uber because you would not be able to compete"
Our correspondent also reported that most of the cars at the Africa’s biggest automobile market; Berger Auto Market are over-aged cars, ranging between 2002-2008 models except for some SUVs.
For SUVs at the market, some of them are fairly new as most of them range from 2008 to 2016 models.
One of the dealers who gave his name as Mr. Chinonso Donatus explained that the reason there seems to be over-aged vehicles at the market is because of the economy of the country.
He added that for every dealer, the intention is to make profit and to sell his cars and when such new cars come in; the prices are mostly higher and this makes it almost impossible for many Nigerians.
“The thing is that the date of manufacturing a car is different from the year of the model and the reason cars ranging from 2002 models are still here is because of the affordability"
"How many Nigerians can afford to bring out say N4million to N5million to buy at least a 2013 model of Toyota not to talk of 2014 to 2019?
That is the problem. For some of the SUVs you see here, ranging from 2011 to 2019 you can get any of the brands with anything less than N5million and who is capable to afford that? That has been the major reason dealers get more patronage from all those 2002 brands”
Meanwhile the Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Mr. Muda Yusuf has charged the government to be more disciplined in the implementation of its policies.
He maintained that the institutions that are supposed to ensure compliance to policies should show more commitment in the implementation of such policies, adding that there should be consequences for failing to implement government policies.
“It is a question of ensuring we have more discipline in implementing our policies. Policies are put in place for a particular purpose and institutions of government that are supposed to ensure compliance should show more commitment in enforcing those policies. I think that is the simple response to that because ideally it is not also good to allow our environment to be a dumping ground or 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”
Explaining further Muda, said that bringing in such vehicles creates safety problems.
“So it has implications for safety and also for the environment because of the increment in emission and all sorts of things. When you populate the whole place with vehicles that are very old, it also has environmental implications, but more importantly is the safety of the citizens”, he said.