Car dealers groan over new import policy, call for reversal


Mixed reactions have trailed the ban on the importation of vehicles through land borders with some of the dealers calling the policy anti people while others said it would boost national economy.

Some of the vehicle dealers in Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Kaduna States also said in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria [NAN] that the policy should be relaxed to give them time to adjust.

In Kaduna State, the Treasurer of Car Dealers Association, Aminu Ibrahim claimed that the policy had forced prices of vehicles to go up beyond the reach of Nigerians.

“Patronage has completely ceased because of the hike in prices of cars resulting from the policy, and this has resulted to huge job losses.

“For example, I had to lay off seven staff from my pay role and placed four others on half salary because of the situation the new policy had put us on.

“I am telling you the jobs of over 500, 000 people employed by different car dealers across the country are threatened by the policy and I am afraid many will have to go eventually,” he said.

He called for the policy to be suspended, adding “we have already submitted a proposal to the government with our advice on the best way forward.

”Baba Abdullahi of Dan-Kakalo Motors Kaduna, said that the policy would eventually put a lot of car dealers out of business.

“Even before the policy, car dealers were battling with the problem of exchange rates which led to slight increase processing of cars.

“The Federal Government have increased Import Duty for 2003 to 2005 Model from N120,000 to N130,000 to N650,000, which further compounded the issue.

“By the time you consider the exchange rate; pay import duty and pay bill of landing among other charges, it means no one will get a car for less than two million. This is bad for business,” Abdullahi said.

Also, Alhaji Sule Abdu of Madalla Motor Dealers, Zaris said the ban on importation of vehicle through land border had made prices of vehicles to shoot up.

“Nigeria is suffering from economic down turn, people don’t have money, yet the prices of vehicles have gone up, so only few individuals have the purchasing power.

“Therefore, the market is so low that to even maintain your staff is a big problem because there is no sales,” he said.

Abdu appealed to Federal Government to consider the possibility of providing soft loan to motor dealers to enable them remain in the business.

Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed, another car dealer said the policy had negatively affected the in-flow of vehicles into the country.

The Sokoto State Chairman of the Motor Dealers Association, Alhaji Muntari Mafia urged the government to rescind the ban, as part of efforts to get Nigeria out of recession.

“This is to boost the economic growth of the country, curb poverty and reduce unemployment-induced crimes.

“Even though the federal government has its wisdom for implementing the policy, it is ill-timed, considering the economic recession, high foreign exchange rate and increasing unemployment.”

Mafia noted that the prevailing economic situation in the country had reduced the ability of Nigerians to purchase vehicles.

He lamented that the low value of the naira, coupled with the high exchange rate had ”conspired” to kill the automobiles business in parts of the nation.

Mafia maintained that the high prices of automobiles had gone beyond the reach of average Nigerians, saying,” that is why our business premises have been deserted.

“We are humbly and passionately appealing to the federal government to reverse the ban.

“This is because auto dealers have only been struggling to survive the harsh economic situation.

“The downward review of duties on imported automobiles would also boost socioeconomic activities, hence, bolster revenue generation for the federal government.”

In Kebbi, car dealers are also complaining of low sales, job losses and difficult business environment.

Alhaji Muhammadu Dan-Ali, the state Chairman of motor dealers association claimed the policy was haphazardly implemented.

He said that the association had demanded for a three months window period to allow the members adjust to the new policy but was ignored by the government.

According to him an estimated 1,000 people engaged in car sales business in the state risk loosing their jobs as result of the ban.

Alhaji Shehu Mohammed of Ijaba Motors Nigeria Ltd in Birnin Kebbi said most of them were still studying the situation.

He called on federal government to review the policy as it had created unnecessary hardship on the people which may result into security threat.

Malam Aminu Bagudo, General Manager, Gamzaki Motors Nig Ltd, described the ban as unpopular, disclosing that most of the 110 staff of the company had relocated to Lagos and Cotonou in Benin Republic.

Alhaji Mamman Ambursa, a customer, said he had wanted to swap his car with another but had to shelve the idea due to the high cost of vehicles.

In Kano State, some of the car dealers urged the government to reverse the policy because of its negative effects on their business.

According to to them, majority of the dealers have been sent out of business since the policy began.

One of the dealers, Malam Nazifi Yusuf, said that many of his colleagues would be out of business this year.

“Many of my colleagues were not financially capable of clearing their vehicles before the expiration of the Federal Government’s deadline.

“Many of us started having problems when the exchange rate went up, and many were awaiting a miracle when the federal government announced the new policy, ” he said.

Another dealer, Alhaji Muhammad Bashir appealed to the government to review the policy in order to allow the business to continue but with some modifications.

“Government should review the policy in view of its negative impact on many dealers in the country.”

Alhaji Nura Usman, a major dealer of used cars on Olusegun Obasanjo Way, a popular car selling park in Kano, said most of the dealers had stopped the business.

He said that the ban coupled with the recession and crash of the Naira had negatively affected the business.

“The business is already becoming a threat to many of us because before the ban, the country has been in recession and basically the prices of vehicles went up due to the exchange rate.

“Some of us were in the process of clearing our goods due to the exchange rate when the federal government announced the ban, this made us stranded and helpless. ” he said.

Another dealer, Malam Munkaila Baba, said they now take refuge in prayers “because the situation is beyond comment.”

In Katsina, another car dealer, Nura Ashahabu said the prices of used vehicles had jerked up by more than 60 per cent since the policy commenced.

According to him, more than 80 per cent of the car dealers in the state have abandoned
the business because they could not afford to import the vehicles through the sea.

He revealed that the policy has also affected over 2,000 people ranging from the middle class dealers, drivers, cleaners, middlemen among others.

“The government can make a policy that the Customs Duty be paid right from the African country where the vehicle is being imported.

“The new policy of importing through the sea ports will only favour dealers in the southern part of the country and very few ones from the North,’’ he said.

However, Abubakar Nuhu, proprietor of Al-Ihsan Motors, Nigeria Limited Zaria described the ban as a welcome development.

According to him, the policy will in the long run yield a very good result, because prices of vehicles would crash.

“Remember, Nigeria is the major consumer of these “tokunbo” vehicles, we account for over 85 per cent transaction in Benin Republic, Togo and other places.

“So, the ban on land border importation will coerce the giant car dealers in those countries to move their sites to Nigeria in search for market.

“In such scenario, Nigerians will enjoy multiple benefits – availability of the vehicles at our door steps, multiple choice during purchase, elimination of long distance transportation risk and increase in government revenue base,” Nuhu assured.

Also, Alhaji Musa Gadaga, Director, Gadaga Investment Nigeria Limited, Zaria described the decision of government as a good step in the right direction, assuring that the policy would yield positive result in the near future.

He said that though the prices of vehicles have gone-up for now, very soon it would come down.

“This is a long term policy, the benefits will not manifest now, however, in the long run, everybody will laugh because the prices of vehicles will certainly come down.

“For now, a grade one Peugeot 206 which used to cost between N700,000 and N800,000 now goes for over a million Naira, while a Corolla Toyota saloon car which used to be between N1.2 million and N1.3 million now goes for about N2.2 million.

“A space bus Sharon Golf which used to be between N850,000 and N950,000 now sells from N1.4 million to N1.5 million,” he said.

On his part, Salami Rasaq, the Manager, Kaduna Inland Container Depot, advised the car dealers to take advantage of the dry port and clear their shipments in Kaduna instead of Lagos.

Rasaq told NAN that there was no patronage by the dealers since the port was established, adding that the company would continue to reach out to them, particularly with the new policy which made the dry port a viable option.