A frontline freight forwarder and founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAF), Boniface Aniebonam, has appealed to the federal government to reduce import duties on new vehicles as a pragmatic step to discourage import of fairly used vehicles ,popularly known as ‘Tokumbo’.
Aniebonam, who was speaking in an exclusive interview with National Light in Apapa said that the continued collection of 35 percent import duty on new vehicles hads encouraged smuggling of tokumbo vehicles which litter the Nigerian ports.
He said the outrageous import duty on new vehicles with its attendant economic implications had exposed our economic managers as people that are bereft of ideas on how to grow an economy and save cost.
Aniebonam, who is the doyen of freight forwarding business in Nigeria, said that reduction of import duties on new vehicles would encourage more people to buy new vehicles and reduce expenditure on maintenance of second hand vehicles which intermittently keep the user visiting mechanic workshops on regular basis.
“Reduced import charges on new vehicles will increase cargo turnaround, increase national revenue for the government, dissuade import of Tokumbo vehicles and bring about the marginal propensity to save cost of maintenance of those rickety vehicles.
“When you import a 2018 model car, in the next five years you will only need to service the vehicle and save yourself the stress and the all wastes in going to motor mechanic for major repairs”, Aniebonam remarked.
He noted that importation of fairly used vehicles will naturally decline because with low import duties on new vehicles it will be uneconomic for any business man to insist on bringing in Tokumbo vehicles at 70 percent duty or more, adding that it will also not make any economic sense for businessmen to be risking their lives running from Customs enforcement officers at the border parts with Tokumbo vehicles when newer vehicles can be imported with ease
On whether government import policy on new vehicles is to encourage local content, the maritime practitioner retorted, “How many auto manufacturing companies do we have in Nigeria to produce enough for the citizenry and how many of them has the government of Nigeria encouraged to excel in auto manufacturing. Let us not deceive ourselves. Government should, as a matter credible task, reduce import duties on new vehicles to not more than 20 percent?”
He regretted that our governments are to listening to advice of professionals in the shipping sector, recalling that the stacked containers in the Lagos ports today degenerated to the prevailing congestion in the entire Lagos metropolis because the government failed to listen to stakeholders’ caution.
Aniebonam recalled that as at the time Dangote Group of companies came in to the ports two decades ago he had been calling the attention of Nigerian Government on the need for a deep seaport that could take away pressure from the Lagos ports but they could not listen, saying “Today government representatives are all running helter-skelter over serial congestion of Apapa ports.
He finally charged our governments to be listening to quality pieces of advice from professionals in the shipping sector to always avoid this kind of lifeless policy that regulates international trade practices in this country.”