Due to the rise in foreign exchange rate, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Tuesday, said vehicle importers abandoned thousands of imported fairly used vehicles at the seaport.
Speaking when members of the Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents (ANLCA) paid him a courtesy visit, the Customs area controller, Tin Can Island Command, Compt. Dera Nnadi, expressed worry over the continued drop in cargo throughput at the command.
Compt. Nnadi stated that the number of vehicles throughput into the command had continued to dwindle from 32,000 in 2018 to a mere 4,000 units in 2023.
“There are several vehicles abandoned in the port because the owners are unable to clear them due to high exchange rates.
‘Why did you import when you don’t have money to clear’, I asked, but somebody reminded me that the vehicles were imported believing that they were going to exchange money at N420 and suddenly, it is N770 and the owners in America abandoned them saying, ‘we can’t clear them, let them remain there’.
“As of 2018 to 2021, vehicle throughput here was at the peak of 32,000 vehicles a year. It started dropping as from 2020, by 2022, it dropped to as low as 6,000, in 2023, it is 4,000 units,” he lamented.
Dere stated that the Russia/Ukraine crisis had taken a toll on Importation in the country as bulk cargoes that come in from the country stopped coming in.
Comptroller Nnadi cited other factors militating against trade and revenue generation at the command to include drop in vehicle importation and high exchange rate, among others.
“There is war in Ukraine: grains are no longer coming; wheat is no more coming; bulk cargo is no more coming; sugar is not coming. My predecessor left here having collected a revenue of 52 per cent of N801 billion in nine months; Godwin Emefiele’s policy was one of the things that caused delay. Floating of naira when the new government came in is another challenge.
“So, you see that we are all under constraints and you too are under constraints. You wake up from revenue that was anchored on the exchange rate of N420 per dollar to N770 per dollar. This is another challenge.”
According to him, with the downturn in throughput and business climate at the command and at the world in general, he has the mandate of generating N350 billion in the remaining three months of the year but promised that he would not ignore trade facilitation to meet the target.
“My predecessor struggled and collected that. I am now left with the burden of collecting N350 billion within three months. The challenge is that if I insist on making sure that this money is collected by all means, your members will be negatively affected because it will put pressure on them.
“There is a solution which lies in the fact they the little we have, we should maximise our integrity and ensure that the right thing is done. That way it will reduce the number of days we spend arguing about whether correct duty is paid or not so that the demurrage we would have paid to shipping and terminal companies while arguing would have been converted to part of the profit you will make and reduce the stress,” he said.