By Rasheed Bisiriyu and Anna Okon
As car dealers and Customs clearing agents continue to mount pressure on the Federal Government to reverse the ban on the importation of vehicles through land borders, the government has said that there is no going back on the order.
There are also indications that the enforcement of the ban will lead to a hike in the prices of vehicles, including new ones whose dealers are reportedly using the land borders to avoid paying the right import tariffs.
The Federal Government had on December 5, 2016, announced the ban on the importation of used and new vehicles through the land borders with effect from January 1, 2017.
The spokesperson for the Nigeria Customs Service, Mr. Wale Adeniyi, told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview on Wednesday that the order would neither be reversed nor the deadline extended, adding that only vehicles whose clearance and documentation process had commenced before January 1 would be allowed to come into Nigeria.
He spoke against the backdrop of reports that some cars that could not make it into the country before Tuesday, the first day of the implementation of the ban, were trapped at the Seme border.
“If the importers had already started the documentation process before January 1, the vehicles will be allowed to come in even if they are still at the Seme border. But fresh orders cannot be entertained and the deadline will not be extended to accommodate people who brought in their cars after the deadline,” he said.
Adeniyi said that any vehicle that had crossed from the Benin Republic into Nigeria and whose importer had started the process of documentation was not affected by the ban.
It was, however, learnt that about 50 vehicles that came into Seme on Friday, December 29, 2016, were still at the border as of Wednesday as their owners were unable to make payment to the bank.
The spokesman for the Seme Command of the NCS, Mr. Selechang Taupyen, said a few vehicles were escorted into the country at the tail end of the last working day of last year (Friday) and that the owners could not make payment before the ban took effect.
He added that for such vehicles, clarifications would have to be obtained from the head office of the Customs before they could be cleared.
The Chairman, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, Mr. Bisiriyu Fanu, said that importers made last minute efforts to clear their cars before the January 1 deadline.
The association called on the government to extend the deadline by three months to allow people whose cars were already sea-borne to clear them.
Some car dealers in Lagos also urged the Federal Government to rescind the ban on the importation of vehicles through land borders to aid inclusive economic growth and crime reduction.
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