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Nigerian Government Policy on importation of Cars; 8 Year Rule Replaces the 5 Year Rule (Posted 3rd February, 2003) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

Cars at Berger Car Market, Lagos. waiting to be Sold.The recent announcement that eight (8) year old cars can now be imported into Nigeria ought to come as good news to many Nigerians especially car dealers. The battle to review the ban on the importation of cars older than five (5) year old has been ongoing for some time now. Quite like the Americans, the average Nigerian cherishes the ownership of a car as it enhances the social status of an individual and serves as a social symbol. To add to this is the inadequate nature of public transport system in most towns and cities in the country. Currently, Nigerians are reputed to own some of the classiest and most expensive cars in the world. It is often alleged that it takes less than a month for a newly tested or launched car in Europe to berth at the Lagos ports. 

Thus, the government’s stance on the importation of above 5-year-old car importation was not welcomed with an open arm. The government argued that road unworthy vehicles have become a big problem for Nigerians and the Nigerian environment. Also, the Aliko Dangote-led Panel recommended the ban as an option to decongest the overcrowded ports, especially the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports. The Federal government has often repeated that it is more concerned about the efficiency and smooth operation of the ports, the health of Nigerians and the environment. 

But on the part of the car dealers and scores of intending car owners or buyers, the Government was not considering the economic constraint that is strangulating the monthly pay packet of the average worker with minimum wage pegged at N7, 500. The reality on ground contrasts with the Government’s view-point.  

Bosun RolandConsidering the above scenario, a clearing agent at the Tin Can Island Ports, Mr. Bosun Roland was of the opinion that the new extension to 8 years was not adequate as the clearing agent body was agitating for at least 12 years or more. He opines that the cost of clearing vehicles like Toyota Starlet and Corolla which was formerly N50,000 has now gone up to between N150,000 and N200,000 thereby increasing the end price of these automobiles to between N400,000 to N450,000. This, he regards as quite outrageous and beyond the purse of the average Nigerian. He appeals to the Government to look beyond 8 years and reduce the number of Nigerian cars berthing in Cotonou, Benin Republic and other West African States and thereafter smuggled into the country. 

Chief Sunday Akibor, Chairman, United Berger Motor Dealers AssociationTo Chief Sunday Akibor, Chairman, United Berger Motor Dealers Association, the umbrella body for car dealers in Berger, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Lagos, he believes the government has tried but can do better by extending the ban to 15 years old cars instead. He asserted that a five-year-old car in Nigeria can only be compared to a 12-year-old car used in Europe due to road condition and maintenance. He believes very few Nigerians can afford a 5 million Naira car in these hard times and a car that is 8 years old is in that category. Ndubuisi Omerua, another car dealer was very angry at the government’s extension, stating that an eight to ten year old Toyota Carina E costs around N980, 000 Naira and an eight year old Mercedes E class currently costs more than 2 million Naira. 

At the Apapa Ports, a Custom Officer that pleaded for anonymity, who spoke to our reporter, explained that the Federal Government reversed the 5-year-old car policy after much persuasion from the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and a host of other related bodies. He reiterates the fact that the stand of Government was in the best interest of everybody as the stockpiling of goods and cars then was alarming at the various Ports in the country. When asked whether the ban on 5 year old cars has affected the Nigerian Customs Service especially in the area of combating smuggling, he said the Service is well equipped to manage the scourge and a visit to the Ikeja Custom Command, Seme Custom Command and Idi-Iroko Custom Command will convince pessimists considering the number of smuggled cars they have seized. He also asserts that the ban on vehicles has not affected one bit on the revenue profile of the Nigerian Custom Service, as motor vehicle is just an aspect of the wide spectrum of sources for their revenue. 

Tin Can Island Port, LagosSpeaking for the emerging middle class, one Mr. Toyin Ogunmefun, a staff at the Computer warehouse, Surulere, Lagos was a little bit delighted with the new 8-year-old ban, as it could allow the people in his category to grab a car in the very near future. Though he wants the Government to consider the lower and middle classes when making policies that affect them. A car buyer at Berger car market, Dr. Okafor thinks the government has been so unserious and insensitive about the whole issue. He asks rhetorically if there was much difference between the cost of a 5 year old car and an 8 year old one. He further explained that there should be no age limits on cars coming into the country as long as the government gets the Customs Service to carry out a road-worthiness test on them and also to get certificate of roadworthiness from their country of origin. He feels that the average Nigerian is still getting a raw deal regarding the ban on used cars from Europe and the Americas.

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