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Vehicle Importation Gulps N6.3tr In 5 Years

Taiwo Hassan

The Federal Government has disclosed that importers of vehicles at the country’s gateways spent $31.67 billion (about N6.3trillion) on vehicles imports and other motorized equipment from 2009 to 2013. This information was contained in a data issued by the National Automotive Council (NAC) and presented by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) over the weekend in Abuja.

rThe amount was spent on importation of vehicles, tractors, trailers and semi-trailers, civil engineering and contractors’ plant and equipment. A breakdown of the figure shows that the country spent $5.407billion in 2008; $4.012billion in 2009; $5.592billion in 2010; $4.082billion in 2011; $6.364billion in 2012 and $6.212billion in 2013 on the importation of these items. A further breakdown shows that a total of about 100,000 new and 300,000 used vehicles were imported into the country in 2012, excluding tractors, trailers and semi-trailers, civil engineering and contractors plant and equipment.

Based on this huge spending on vehicles importation, the Federal Government under former President Goodluck Jonathan introduced the National Automotive Policy to encourage local production of vehicles. It also imposed 35% duty and 35% levy on imported new and used vehicles to discourage importation. The policy has however failed due to a huge gap in market demand and local production, thus promoting smuggling of vehicles into the country.

Just last week, expectation was high as port users were expecting the take-off of the remaining 35 % levy at the gateways but no news was heard on the auto policy. Investigation, however, showed that key maritime stakeholders were lobbying the reigning government of President Muhammadu Buhari to jettison the policy due to the rise in vehicles smuggling at the country’s borders. The move may have put a snag on the efforts by the National Automotive Council (NAC) and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to see that Nigeria become a local automobile manufacturing nation in future.

Meanwhile market indices have shown that the Nigerian Market for fairly used vehicles, also known as Tokunbo, is gradually diminishing with the gradual implementation of the National Automobile Policy. The Federal Government auto policy had few years ago increased tariff on the imported motor products by 100 per cent.

Although, fairly used cars are still on display at various auto shops across the country, there are indications that that importation of the auto products has drastically reduced, especially since the beginning of the year. Records from Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria show that vehicles importation through the Lagos ports reduced by more than 150 per cent in January this year, compared to the same period of last year.

For instance only about 8,000 vehicle (cars) were discharged at Lagos Ports in January this year, against 27,000 units that were discharged at the same ports in 2014. The volume of trucks that were imported through the gateways within the same period under review also indicated a sharp reduction as only 1,700 units came into the country through the ports in January this year, a drop of 1,000 units of the 2,700 units that came through the Lagos ports in January, 2014.

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