Following the rising cost of imported used (Tokunbo) vehicles in the country, car dealers and clearing agents have called for the review of Customs policies so as to give Nigerians the opportunity to own vehicles.
Checks by Shipping Position Daily revealed that foreign used vehicles which have over the years become more affordable by the middle class in the country, is now out of reach of many Nigerians, due to the high cost of such vehicles in the automobile market.
Further findings by our correspondent revealed that the cost of used vehicles has doubled in the last 12 months.
According to the Federal Government policy, any vehicle older than 15 years is considered as overaged and prohibited from coming into the country.
Shipping Position Daily further findings revealed that due to the high cost and subsequent low purchase of used vehicles, importers are now forced to import ‘accidented’ vehicles which are relatively cheaper.
In a chat with our correspondent, the President of United Berger Automobile Dealers Association in Lagos; Chief Metche Nnadiekwe lamented high cost of the foreign-used vehicles, this is even as he alleged that there is a calculated attempt to black-out the middle class from owning vehicles.
He added that the high cost of used vehicles in the country is aiding corruption, while calling on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to review some of its policies so as to help many Nigerians who can’t afford used vehicles.
He said: “I think there is a calculated attempt to black-out the middle class from owning a car of their own in this country, otherwise a car that is supposed to be cleared with N600,000 is now cleared with N2.5 million and if there is delay, you will still have to pay for demurrage, so with the demurrage you are clearing the vehicle with about N2.6 million, so automatically when you now add the vehicle cost, who will buy it, where would the middle class get the money.
“We are living in a country where certain people are not being considered and we are talking about crime reduction and poverty alleviation. How do we reduce crime and poverty in this kind of situation and this is why people look for a way to get what they want.
“The high cost of vehicles is bad for us, who are those that are buying cars now, before you sell a car now, it will take weeks, because you won’t see anybody coming to buy.”
“So, government should review their policies, to make life convenient for the citizens, the worst part of it is that when government wants to review their policies, they don’t involve the critical stakeholders like us; so how do we make them understand they only do things as long as it does not affect some certain set of people,” he said.
Also speaking, Ademola Lukman, a motor dealer in Ikeja in Lagos state said Nigerians are already drifting from buyers of used vehicles to buyers of accidented vehicles. He informed that many Nigerians can no longer afford tokunbo vehicles and as such there is high demand for accidented vehicles.
He disclosed that many motor dealers in Nigeria now buy and repair accidented vehicles, which is a little bit cheaper than non-accidented foreign used cars.
He urged the NCS to review the ban on ‘overage’ vehicles so as to allow more Nigerians the opportunity to own a vehicle.
“There was a time we were shouting that tokunbo vehicles are too many in the country; that government needs to help Nigerians to be able to afford new vehicles. But now, I can tell you that we have even moved from the stage of importing standard used vehicles to importing accidented vehicles.
“The number of accidented vehicles in the country is alarming, because how many people can afford standard foreign used cars, what you now see in many of the motor dealers’ shops are accidented vehicles that are repaired and they sell for a lesser price, things are getting worse.”
“What I think the government should do in spite of the high foreign exchange is to review the overage vehicle policy that will allow Nigerians to afford some vehicles that will serve them better than buying accidented or third hand vehicles” he advised.
Also speaking, a clearing agent operating at the Port and Terminal Multi-Service Limited (PTML) in Lagos; Shodunke Olawale confirmed that importation of tokunbo vehicles has practically dropped, stating that many of the clearing agents now clear accident vehicles owing to the high cost of tokunbo vehicles in the country.
“Yes it is true, although tokunbo vehicles are still being cleared in large numbers, we have however witnessed an increase in number of accidented vehicles into the country also; which means that Nigerians are now demanding for accidented vehicles.
“What I think the government can do is to mandate Customs to focus on trade facilitation, rather than having its focus on revenue generation, let Customs cut down import duty, remove other bureaucracies that add to the cost of clearance, this I believe will bring down the cost of used vehicles,” he said.