Month After the Nigeria Customs Service started implementing Vehicle Identification Number for the clearance of imported vehicles, clearance agents operating in seaports across the country revealed that Mercedes Benz, BMW and Chevrolet cars , among others, have yet to be captured on the platform.
The agents, who spoke exclusively with Sunday punch in Lagos, said the platform mainly captures Japanese and American cars.
They lamented that to clear vehicles from Europe and the United States, officers had to meet with customs to get the valuation.
A clearing agent, Toochukwu Nwaigbo, said the introduction of the policy had made cars very expensive in Nigeria.
“There are so many problems with VIN evaluation. European cars like Mercedes Benz and BMW, as well as American Chevrolet, among others, are not captured on the app. When you bring such cars, you must go to customs to get the appraisal yourself. But when you bring Japanese cars like Toyota and Honda and others, they are easily captured. This made the cost of the cars very expensive. A car you can easily getting to say N1m is now well above N3m, so that’s the challenge we face now,” he said.
The Acting National Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Officers, Kayode Farinto, said the NCS imposed arbitrary charges on imported vehicles.
He added that it was a deliberate attempt to circumvent the government’s intent.
“Some of the vehicles like Mercedes Benz, BMW and Chevrolet are not captured on the VIN platform; they just give arbitrary values and I think it’s a deliberate attempt to sabotage the government,” Farinto said.
He noted that a vehicle that cost 1.7 million naira to clean before would require 2.9 million naira for the same purpose.
“Customs usually say they are working on it; so we have to give them time to work on it. If they don’t come out with anything, we will now know it was a deliberate attempt to sabotage the system,” he added.
When asked if there was a possibility of a strike to ensure the right thing would be done, he replied: “We are not talking about a strike; there are better ways to handle this; if we go on strike, perhaps nothing will come of it. It’s not like they don’t care about Mercedes Benz when you bring it in, but they won’t tell you it’s not a standard VIN so you have to pay extra. I have a Mercedes Benz GL450 2009 model which I am cleaning, the total duty is around 2.9 million naira. Previously, it was not up to this amount; it cost N1.7 million at most.
In his response, National Public Relations Manager, NCS, Timi Bomodi said: “First you have to ask how old the vehicle they are bringing is. For example, a 2009 car is not supposed to enter the country; as long as they are above the age limit they are not supposed to enter. It’s like a thief complaining that today’s burglar proof is strong.
“The focus cannot be on the model; it must first be on the year; you need to know if they are supposed to come in at all. If they are under the required legal age, it is not necessary. The message is that they are all standard production items; they all carry the same standard identification number.
Bomodi, however, said there is a procedure to check whether a vehicle has a standard VIN or not.
“There is a procedure for dealing with vehicles with non-standard VIN numbers. So what is the complaint? The complaint that it takes longer and is more expensive is not true. You don’t need to see a vehicle to know if the VIN is standard or not, because you have the bill of lading, which has the VIN number.You don’t need to wait for the ship to arrive to find out if the vehicle has a standard VIN or no,” he added.