Vehicle importation to Nigeria declined abysmally, with only 1,216,131 used and new vehicles imported into the country from 2012 to 2017.
According to Nigerian Ports Statistics 2012 to 2017 report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the vehicles came through Apapa, Tin Can, Onne, Calabar and Delta ports.
The report stated that vehicle importation into the country was on downward spiral from 2013, even though the federal government auto policy was introduced in 2014.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan had imposed 70 per cent duty on importation of new vehicles and 35 per cent on used vehicles with the aim of boosting local production.
The tariff reduced the number of vehicles brought into the country but failed to boost local production, just as it fuelled smuggling from neighbouring Benin Republic and Togo.
Also, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2016 placed ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders, citing loss of revenue.
The ban, which was introduced to influence massive importation of vehicles through the nation’s seaports, has not also done enough to stop smuggling at porous land borders of Seme and Idiroko.
For instance, 269,386 vehicles were imported in 2012, while 280,226 came into the country in 2013 and 247,932 in 2014.
Also, in 2015, 131,994 vehicles were reportedly received at various terminals, 105,189 in 2016 and 181,404 in 2017.
Tin Can Island port, which has designated vehicle terminals, PTML and Five Star Terminals handled the highest number of vehicles imported into the country.
For instance, 1,164,600 vehicles were imported through the Tin-Can port in the year under review. The breakdown showed that in 2012, 251,322 vehicles were imported, while 265,209 in 2013 and 237,904 came into the port in 2014.
It showed further that in 2015, 124,841 vehicles were received at various terminal at Tin-Can port, 104,571 in 2016 and 180,753 in 2017.
The Tin-Can Port was followed by the Apapa port, which received 48,937 vehicles in the year under review. The Apapa port received 17,121, being the highest number of vehicles into the country in 2012, followed by 14,397 in 2013 and 9,611 in 2014.
Although the port doesn’t have a designated vehicle terminal, the port recorded 6,955 in 2015 and paltry 346 and 507 in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The eastern port, which was known for receiving oil and gas cargoes, also received a paltry 2,594 in six years.
Onne port received the highest in the eastern port from 285 in 2012 to 260 in 2013 and 106 in 2014, even as 196 vehicles were received in 2015, 272 in 2016 and 3 in 2017.
Delta port received 2 vehicles in 2015 and additional 658 in 2012, 360 in 2013 and 311 in 2014. The Rivers Port received only 141 vehicles in 2017, while Calabar port has received no vehicle in the last six years.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP, immediate past president of the association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, advised the federal government to reduce tariff on brand new vehicles and maintain tariff on used one to spark off massive importation through the seaports.
He disclosed that despite the ban through Land borders, vehicles are still being snuggled massively through unapproved routes.
He said Nigeria is a victim of smuggling, with a lot of people bringing vehicles into the country through unapproved routes, adding that it is not good for a developing economy like Nigeria.
Shittu said, “The greatest incentives is to reduce tariff on newer vehicles and increase tariff on old vehicles. If you go to West African coast, the newer your vehicle the lower your tariff but when a brand new vehicle pays 70 per cent and someone doing assemblage pays 20 per cent that is what stops people from importation.
“Also, because people are using unapproved routes to bring in their vehicles, there are no records of how many vehicles have come into the country through unapproved routes and that is not good for the economy.
“It also means the locally assembled vehicles which government has supported so much has not impacted on the vehicles production because if the price of locally assembled vehicles are cheaper enough, there won’t be any need of going abroad to bring in vehicles especially, accidented vehicles. Even though it gives jobs to our local artisans, it is not good for a growing economy like ours. Government needs to have a deliberate policy on how to stop vehicle importation through the land borders.”
Our correspondent reports that recently, PSA Peugeot Citroen revealed plans to start assembling cars in Nigeria by the first quarter of 2019 through a joint venture with the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote and five state governments.
An adviser to Kaduna State governor, Jimi Lawal, said that Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited, located in Kaduna, would assemble 3,500 units in its first year and ramp up to about 10,000 units.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP, an expert, Chukwudi Enekwechi, said before the emergence of INNOSON as Nigeria’s first automobile manufacturer, the trend was that of the uncontrollable importation of new, old and fairly-used vehicles into the country which he said came with a lot of capital flight and rendered our local industries comatose.
‘‘Apart from the negative implications of importing all manner of vehicles into the country, the survival of local automobile manufacturing companies was heavily threatened.
INNOSON came to Nigeria’s rescue at the right time as he commenced the local production of vehicles ranging from 18-seater buses, trucks, cars and SUVs at affordable prices. The company has also offered employment to thousands of Nigerians including availing the Presidential Amnesty Office the opportunity of training the repentant Niger Delta militants at their factories at Emene, Enugu state and Nnewi Anambra state.’’
Meanwhile, experts in the nation’s automobile sector have urged the federal government to support local manufacturing of vehicles. The experts commended local vehicle manufacturers like Innoson Motors and others for their efforts at contributing to the nation’s economy.
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