Two years after placing a ban on the importation of vehicles through land borders, the Federal Government has announced a plan to lift the ban.
The reconsideration of the ban was spurred by a new initiative, a bilateral electronic connectivity programme developed by the Nigeria Customs Service and the Customs Service of the Republic of Benin. The Comptroller General of NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.) revealed this recently during a stakeholders’ meeting.
The automated platform and bilateral connectivity programme will be deployed on June 20, 2019 – the time-frame to revoke the ban was not mentioned.
There’s the Catch: According to Ali, who was represented by the Assistant Comptroller, Information and Communication Technology, Benjamin Aber, the successful implementation of the initiative will determine if the embargo will be lifted for land importation of vehicles.
Possible Advantages: The initiative will enable the Customs of both countries to electronically share information of transported imports from Nigeria and Republic of Benin. The progress and impact of the initiative will be the deciding factor.
The initiative is expected to help fix documentation issues, smuggling of vehicles, threat to life, and block revenue leaks. All these led to the closure of land borders against vehicle and rice importation according to Ali.
“Vehicles were formerly being imported through the Seme border, but suddenly it was banned because the pressure of enforcement of anti-smuggling for vehicles and claiming of lives and revenue were becoming too alarming, so the government had to restrict the importation through Nigerian ports.
“When vehicles came through the land border, we did not have a record of how the imported cars came here and fake documentation became a common phenomenon. The ban was just a control measure against the practice.
“By the time we successfully deploy this reliable, transparent and predictable programme that would assist government agencies, not only Customs, to control and regulate the importation of vehicles, the government may decide to relax such restrictions.”
The initiative will also combat illegal check-points set-up by Customs officers and other security agencies along the border corridors.
Recall that in 2017, the government ordered that all vehicle importation must come through the sea. The policy was aimed at controlling the rate at which cars and other vehicles were being smuggled into the country.