Freight forwarders yesterday crippled activities at the ports with protests at the Tin Can Island Port and PTML Terminals over the anomalies in the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Valuation System policy of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for imported vehicles.
This follows the expiration of the 72 hours strike notice issued by all registered freight forwarding associations operating at the PTML Terminal and Tin Can Island port in Lagos, last week, to the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, over the anomalies surrounding the VIN Valuation System policy.
The Guardian learnt that the assessed value of imported vehicles has risen by almost 300 per cent.
Yesterday, the agents sealed off the popular Car Park C at the Tin Can Island Port.
The grievances of the freight forwarders were that, despite their cries to the Customs boss to address the issue, cars are now stranded at the port due to failure of the new customs valuation system to generate accurate value payable on imported cars with no remedy to the situation on the ground.
They complained that there was no consideration for rebate and depreciation value in the valuation being issued on imported cars.
The Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at PTML Terminal, Oluwole Obey, said up till now, the letter written to the customs CG has not been replied to, nor has he reached out or given assurances to the agents.
He, however, admitted that the Customs Area Comptroller in charge of PTML Command, Festus Okun made an attempt last Thursday to pacify the freight forwarders on the new VIN valuation platform.
According to the ANLCA Chairman, the freight forwarders are not against the introduction of the VIN Valuation, as they view it as a noble concept that would end corruption in the system of vehicle clearance.
He, however, complained that the Customs failed to carry out due diligence before implementation of the policy, adding that the value being issued to be paid on imported vehicles has risen by almost 300 per cent.
Obey said this would affect the end-users as the prices of vehicles will skyrocket, noting that Toyota Camry, which sells for N1.5 million may be sold for N5 million.
The Spokesman of ANLCA at PTML Chapter, Ayokunle Sulaiman confirmed that the protest would be followed by withdrawal of services at the ports.
Meanwhile at the Tin Can Port, one of the freight associations, the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), wrote to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) informing the Authority of today’s protest.
In the letter signed by NPA’s Port Security officer, Albert Onyeka, the authority said it was willing to assist in meaningfully resolving the impasse with customs in its capacity as a regulator.
It stated that NPA security department and port authority police are earnestly monitoring the protest to ensure that the port remains peaceful.
The Task Force Chairman of ANLCA at Tin Can Port, Rilwan Amuni, said the strike action is going to be total, adding that all the freight associations are acting on the same page.