The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, on Thursday said the Federal Government had no plan to ease the ban on the importation of used vehicles through land border.
Ali said this during the inauguration of a connectivity platform established by the European Union at Seme Border to improve trade between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin.
Ali said the Nigeria Customs Service is not opening land border for importation of used vehicles but is interested in the success of the connectivity platform to facilitate border trade between the two countries.
The customs boss urged all stakeholders to embrace the platform to enable the two countries to achieve seamless operations and trade facilitation.
He said that the platform would assist genuine traders, adding that smugglers would be fought.
“We are envisaging compliance, and we hope we get compliance; where individual decides not to comply, then the customs will ensure there is no illicit trafficking between the two countries.
“At the initial stage, I do expect some challenges before our traders get used to the system; there is always an apprehension when it comes to ICT (Information and Communication Technology, people are not very comfortable.
“We have some series of sensitisation, we will continue to tell them the benefits of these technologies and what they stand to gain.
“It is our hope that in no time, all of them will key in into the platform,” Ali said.
He said that through this platform, false declaration of goods and some other illegal activities, experienced due to manual operation, would stop.
Ali said the platform would increase the volume of trade and revenue between the two countries.
The Director-General of Benin Republic Customs, Sacco Charles, who lauded the initiative, said it will help address trade challenges faced by both countries, saying he is proud to associate with Nigeria.
He said, “Since 15 years ago, both countries have been working toward this achievement, we thank God for making it successful.
“We have been able to put in place monitoring teams.
“The connectivity will be a milestone for both countries with the help of the World Customs Organisation.
“Also, our administration will be able to integrate other agencies into the platform.
“Before now, it was difficult for other countries to locate Benin because it is a small country but with the collaboration, Nigeria being the Giant of Africa, we are going to be popular as a result of border trade.”
The Nigerian Trade Portal domiciled in Abuja was used to demonstrate the workings of the system to stakeholders, showing how transit goods declaration made in Cotonou port can be assessed at the Nigerian end.
With the trade platform, transit goods destined for Nigeria but landed in the port of Cotonou will have all relevant information about the importer, nature of consignment, time of arrival, commodity code, description, number of packages, marks and other relevant details that can be viewed by Nigeria Customs officials.