Freight forwarders suspend protest after Shippers’ Council’s intervention

Emmanuel Jime

 

Freight forwarders, who have been protesting at the Tin Can Island Port Complex since Monday, have suspended the action after a meeting with the Executive Secretary/CEO of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hon. Emmanuel Jime. 

The freight forwarders embarked on the protest on Monday to express their grievances over the introduction of the controversial vehicle identity number (VIN) valuation system recently introduced by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for assessing the duty payable on imported vehicles.

The freight forwarders, under the aegis of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), argued that the new system was tacitly used by Customs to increase the cost of clearing imported vehicles at the port.

However, during a meeting with the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in Apapa on Friday, the leaders of the associations agreed to end the protest and allow resumption of cargo clearing activities at the port. 

The NSC boss, Hon. Jime promised to set up a committee comprising representatives of the associations and senior officials of the NSC to engage the Nigeria Customs Service with the aim of resolving the imbroglio. 

Speaking earlier at the meeting, the National Secretary of ANLCA, Babatunde Mukaila, said, “On February 17th, 2022, all freight forwarding associations met and pleaded with our members to calm down while we engaged with Customs. We met the Customs and conveyed these concerns. We also appealed to the Comptroller-General of Customs in subsequent letters. So, it was difficult to prevent the protests when our members waited for one week without any results from our engagement with Customs leadership. 

“It is important to note that 70 – 90% of vehicles are imported through Tin Can and PTML. Customs have agreed that the VIN valuation design neglected the extant laws on wear and tear as well as the 10% depression in value of used cars.

“Less than 10% of the vehicles at the ports were able to access Customs portal for the duties. There are several issues that we observed and we asked them to revert to manual process while these issues are resolved. We aren’t against automation because it is what we have always wanted, but the process must be transparent and realistic.”

Also speaking, the Deputy National President of NAGAFF, Segun Musa warned that Customs’ insistence on using the controversial VIN valuation process system would lead to increase in smuggling activities.

“Vehicle smuggling will increase and the Federal Government would have to channel its limited resources towards combating smuggling. If this isn’t nipped in the bud, there is also the tendency for Customs to come up with similar approaches for other goods,” he said.



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