Cotonou port booms as vehicle importation into Nigeria drops by 50 percent

The Managing Director of Port and Terminal Multiservice Limited (PTML), Mr. Asconio Russo said the volume of vehicles being imported into Nigeria has dropped sharply due to implementation of the automotive policy. This is even as fairly used vehicles meant for the Nigerian market are now imported through the neighbouring Port of Cotonou, Benin Republic.

Speaking on Wednesday when National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu visited the terminal in Lagos, Russo said the volume of vehicles being imported into the country has reduced by half since the introduction of the auto policy and might even get worse when full implementation begins possibly in April.

“I may not want to comment on government policy because it is not my prerogative but I can give you the figures, tell you that the number of vehicles being discharged all over Nigerian – I am not talking about our terminal – but in Nigeria it has dropped 50 percent.

“So the calculation is if the whole of Lagos was discharging 20,000 or 25,000 vehicles every month it is like we are now doing 10,000 vehicles and these are the ones coming in RORO. There are also some coming in containers which has also disappeared.

“We have noticed that the number of vehicles coming into Cotonou has increased dramatically so we are losing business while Cotonou is gaining business. Everyone can understand what this that means and we know that Cotonou’s population has not increase from 10 million people they were.

“This policy is dramatically affecting the port industry and this is affecting the overall population because the prices of vehicles are going up in the market and this is something we see every day,” Russo stated.

Earlier, Shittu had told Russo that his association had always being critical of the auto policy because the implementation would affect the businesses of its members.

“We have  always being critical of this automotive policy and we have not changed our position. By the time April comes and the 35 percent levy is added, it will be a problem because there will be no cargo through here, our people will lose jobs and we will lose the whole revenue.

“How do you recover from the investment you have made so far? It is a very serious matter because how many Nigerians can afford to buy a brand new vehicle in this country? So, when duty on fairly use vehicle is 70 percent and by December, it will be 100 percent according to what minister Aganga mentioned to me, should we shut down the whole port in protest? Will it receive popular acceptance? Will the government not see us as saboteurs because this is pre-election and post-election?” he asked rhetorically.

“We have to watch it because it will be though this year and we all know,” Shittu added.

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