SON’s Director General, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, had at a recent meeting in Lagos with members of the Indian Professional Forum explained that the proposed move become imperative, following alleged complaints from the general public over the condition of used vehicles being imported into the country.
Odumodu had noted that the Federal Government policy for used vehicles, which prescribed age restriction, would not be the focus of SON, which, according to him, was interested in the condition of the engines, emission levels and mechanical functions of the vehicles, among other features.
However, a number of vehicle importers, who spoke to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, have roundly SON’s plans, urging the agency to focus more on its core function of checking the influx of substandard products that have flooded the Nigeria markets.
Nigerian consumers, according to these vehicle importers, have suffered enough from the effects of substandard products as a result of SON’s alleged incompetency.
One of the vehicle importers and Chairman, Progressive Car Dealers Association, Comrade Chinedu Ukatu told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that SON, having failed in its statutory obligation to control the influx of substandard products into the country, with the proposed regulation of used vehicle imports, was seeking for an avenue to make more money.
Ukatu said: “They are having problem in regulating the finished products we have in the country. That is why we have China products everywhere; because there is no regulation. It is not just going to work out. They have not finished regulating finished products that are killing people in this country, they are talking about regulating tokubo vehicles. How are they going to do that? How many engineers are they going to bring to be inspecting the cars?”
Ukatu, who is also a member of the Customs Consultative Committee (CCC) went on to advise SON to beam the searchlight on the quality of motor spare parts and brand new cars, rather than imported used vehicles. Speaking in the same vein, Mr. Cornelius Obiaku, who is a member of United Berger Auto Dealers Association, said that any right-thinking importer will not support the move by SON to regulate used vehicles imports, stressing that the agency should focus more on tackling the influx of substandard goods, including auto spare parts into the country.
The policy, according to him, if implemented, will not give the downtrodden masses the opportunity to own cars, if there is any mechanical malfunction in a particular imported used vehicle, it is left for the importer to notice and fix it before selling it out to the final consumer.
“There are many things that should be done by government, but they are not doing it. SON should focus on its area of operation. If we find it difficult to import tokunbo vehicles, there is no way poor people can have access to automobiles. It is that kind of vehicles that poor people go for. They should focus more on electronics that are brought in from Asian countries that are substandard,” Obiaku said.
Also speaking, Mr. Eugene Nwabunike posited that it is does not fall within the jurisdiction of SON to regulate the importation of used vehicles, but, according to him, that of destination inspection, noting that used vehicles are not manufactured specifically for Nigerians.