The Federal Government has said that it is now a crime to bring vehicles into the through land borders. The ban applies to both brand new and used vehicles popularly known as ‘tokunbo’ cars. This was revealed in a statement released by Mr. Wale Adeniyi, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Monday.
“The ban is sequel to a Presidential directive restricting all vehicle imports to Nigerian seaports only,” part of the statement read. The order takes effect from January 1, 2017. The restriction on importation of vehicles follows that of rice, whose imports have been banned through the land borders since April 2016. “Importers of vehicles through the land borders are requested to utilize the grace period up till Dec. 31, 2016 to clear their vehicle imports landed in neighboring ports”, it added.
What this means is that all cars brought into the country from January 2017 must be imported through seaports. Up till now, most cars are brought into the country through land borders, where they are reasonable cheaper to clear than from seaports. The considerably higher fees of clearing and transporting cars through seaports will automatically mean that, just as it happened with the ban on rice importation, the prices of cars should be expected to shoot up drastically.
Another possible outcome of the FG’s decision is that importers who legally use land borders to bring in vehicles, but may not have the resources to do so via seaports may either have to shut shop or resort to illegal importation of these vehicles. Again, this will result in lower supply of cars into the country and higher prices for available cars.
The FG’s decision, once again, just as in the case of rice importation, leaves a lot to be desired of governance. Currently, Nigeria lacks the capacity to build sufficient cars for its citizens, neither are there are concrete plans for the supply deficit likely to result to be filled. Yet, the ban was imposed with no palliative measures. As for the seaports where the FG requires cars to now be imported through, significant work still has to be done to bring it up to standard.
For example, Nigerian seaports still lack the required depth to dock heavy vessels, which results in lightering. Lightering further increases costs of operations and does nothing to encourage business. One would have thought that the FG would at least consider rectifying some of these problems before enforcing the ban.
However, as we have come to expect from the Buhari administration, orders are usually given arbitrarily, with focus on the consequences coming in later.