Customs agents have sought the intervention of the federal government to allow clearance of vehicles which were caught up by the ban on importation through the land borders effective from January 1, this year. The brokers said that the time allowed for the vehicles to be cleared was not enough to process necessary papers for the vehicles to be cleared.
Those who spoke to SHIPPING DAY at the Seme border route said no fewer than 200 to 300 may have been trapped as at the close of work Friday.
The Customs in Seme had stopped payment of duties through the banks as at 5pm.
A customs agent, Mr Kingsley Okenwa told our Correspondent that many importers had moved to beat the deadline but could not complete the process of duty payment for the vehicles to move into the country before the end of December 30.
Okenwa appealed to the federal government to identify and take record of such vehicles now trapped and allow them to be cleared.
Another agent, who gave his name as John, said government intervention has become necessary so that the owners of the goods will not lose them.
It was gathered that many of those who rushed to buy the vehicles were either dealers or individuals who understand the trouble involved in trying to bring the goods through the seaports.
The Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, in Seme, Alhaji Bisiriyu Danu, had told the News Agency of Nigeria that the Customs Service had asked the agents not to pay duties on vehicles as at 5pm December 30.
Danu who admitted that so many vehicles have been trapped said his association was making moves to get government to allow a three month grace period before the ban can be implemented.
He said that the policy will lead to mass unemployment for customs agents as well as car dealers.
He also added that the policy will increase smuggling of vehicles through the land borders.
Danu was quoted saying, “the Seme border is extremely porous and the situation has been managed properly by Customs officials, but this policy is going to increase smuggling.
“All the unapproved routes would be exploited by smugglers. So smuggling would be on the rise with this policy that the government has put in place.
“Also, it would increase the rate of unemployment of youths in this area, as many people rely on this as a means of livelihood”.
The ban announced by the federal government in December had been condemned by many because of the mass number of Nigerians that will lose their jobs as a result.
Those that will be affected include employees of car dealers and customs agents who bring in vehicles through the land borders.
Besides, the ban will make the prices of cars very expensive to such an extent that it will become unaffordable to many low income earners, reports ShippingDay News.