- Vehicle Importers Seek Extension of Deadline
Following the directive from the Federal Government banning importation of vehicles through the land borders with effect from January 2017, importers have been making desperate moves to clear their vehicles from Cotonou, Republic of Benin before the December 31 deadline.
Some vehicle importers who spoke to our correspondent said the time given to them to clear their cars was too short and pleaded with the government to consider extending the deadline by at least another 90 days.
A clearing agent based in Seme border who spoke to our correspondent on Wednesday said importers had bombarded her office, desperately trying to clear all their vehicles.
According to a car dealer, Nnamdi Obi, the ban has placed a very big burden on importers, saying, “There are people who already have vehicles in Cotonou and are running around looking for money to clear them.
“Many of them are finding it difficult to raise money to clear their vehicles because of the recession in the country. Those who approach friends are asked to wait until January.
“There are equally those who have ordered for vehicles from Dubai and it takes 45 days for vessels to sail from Dubai to Cotonou. They have been taken unawares by the sudden order.”
Obi said there were over 2,000 vehicles in Cotonou, waiting to be cleared and twice the amount being expected from Dubai and other places.
He said, “A cycle of trading is 90 days; the government should consider giving the importers 90 days so they can clear their vehicles.”
Meanwhile, a Labanese who sells vehicles in Cotonou said he and his fellow dealers would be relocating to either Ghana or any other African country because of the ban.
“We have customers from Niger, Chad and Togo but majority of our customers are from Nigeria. Because of the ban order, we will all be leaving Cotonou by December.”
The dealer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that some of his customers had bought vehicles on hire purchase, adding that some of them had not finished payment.
He said, for those who had completed payment, they had left the vehicles in the dealers’ custody having been unable to take the vehicles to Nigeria because of the high duty charged by the Nigerian government.
Obi said the reason why importers brought their cars through Cotonou was because of the bureaucracy and exorbitant charges at the Nigerian seaports.
“The government also needs to upgrade and expand the port facilities. For instance, if a man lives in Calabar, he will not need to come to Lagos to clear his car if the port facilities in Calabar were functioning,” he said.