Barely a week into the commencement of the phased implementation of the federal government’s new automotive policy by the Nigeria Customs Service, clearing agents operating at the Tin Can Island Port Area Command have started clearing their vehicles from the port, SHIPS & PORTS DAILY has gathered.
Under the phased implementation of the policy, importers are expected to pay only 35 percent duties on imported cars and 35 percent levy.
Some clearing agents at the command who spoke with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY said although they were not happy with the sudden implementation of the policy, any delay in clearing their vehicles may amount to incurring additional expenses.
A clearing agent, James Adeleke, said there is little the agents can do about the situation as the 35 percent duty has already been configured in the customs system.
Meanwhile, agents at the Port and Terminal Multi Services Limited (PTML) Area Command and its annex in Mile Two area of Lagos State are yet to call off the one week old strike they started on Tuesday to protest implementation of the new auto tariff.
When SHIPS &PORTS DAILY visited the command weekend, some of the agents maintained that they would not return to work until the implementation is suspended. Some of their collegaues however disagreed, condemning the protest; an indication of clear disagreement among the various freight forwarding associations.
An executive of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Samson Odeyemi, said he was not aware of the strike until weekend pointing out that the protest may not produce the desired outcome.
According to him, further delay will only amount to incurring demurrage and storage charges.
“If they want to go on strike, everybody must be aware of it. It is not that one arm of the association will just rise up and say they are protesting. We have to sit down and dialogue. It is not everything that we must protest on so they should allow people to work because some people are already on the verge of taking their delivery. But when you suddenly stop them from doing their jobs, that will not stop the shipping companies from collecting their demurrage”, he said.
It would be recalled that customs management had in March suspended the implementation of the new automotive policy after a peaceful protest was carried out by clearing agents. Subsequently, the federal government had directed that implementation should be shifted to commence July 1 this year.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY gathered that implementation of the policy has since taken effect at Apapa, Tin can and PTML Area commands to the chagrin of the agents.