Customs suspends VIN valuation policy for 30 days to clear backlog of vehicles

• Clearing agents reject moratorium, demands 90 days • PTML, five Star terminal give 70% waiver


The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has announced the suspension of its vehicle identification number (VIN) valuation policy for imported vehicles.

The valuation policy, which increased the duty payable on fairly used imported vehicles by over 400 per cent, was resisted by clearing agents operating at the Tin Can Island and PTML Customs Commands in Lagos.

Following the development, the agents embarked on a strike, blocking the two customs commands and refusing to allow the clearing of goods from the port, thereby trapping over 12, 000.

However, customs announced the suspension of the policy for 30 days, through a circular titled: Approval of Grace Period To Clear Backlog Of Vehicles, dated March 7, 2022, and signed on behalf of the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, by an Assistant Comptroller General, H. K. Gummi.

The circular with reference number NCS/T&T/ACG/008/S.100/VOL 111 and addressed to all Customs Area Controllers reads: “Sequel to the recent Customs, stakeholders town hall meeting held in Lagos on the VIN-Valuation, the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), having listened to public outcry, has approved one-month window to enable the clearing of the backlog of vehicles in the ports due to strike.

“Meanwhile, you are requested to ensure the uniform application of rebates for all vehicles using the correct values for your assessments. The VIN-Valuation protocol is still in operation as reviews and updates are being captured in our system to reflect the adjustments.”

The circular, which was made available to newsmen by the National Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Timi Bomodi, also directed all the Area Controllers to monitor the transition period and ensure manual assessments of import duty on vehicles are in compliance with extant laws.

“Area Controllers are expected to monitor this transition period and ensure manual assessments are in full compliance with the extant laws. The grace period is for one month, beginning from Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

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Meanwhile, clearing agents have rejected the 30-day suspension, saying it was too short to clear the backlog of vehicles trapped inside various terminals.

Although the licensed clearing agents have since resumed work, they are now requesting the NCS to extend the moratorium period to 90 days to allow them to clear all the trapped vehicles

Former Taskforce Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Tin Can Port, Waheed Sadiku, noted that of the 30-day issued by Customs, eight days were weekends and no Customs activities take place on the system except deliveries.

“At this point, we demand more dialogue from our leaders, who are well equipped and knowledgeable with the Customs procedures to quickly move into action, by visiting the Nigeria Custom Zone A of the service. We can clear all the vehicles successfully within 90 days,” he said.

Another clearing agent at PTML Terminal, Godwin Odinaka, argued that 30 days was not enough for freight forwarders to clear their vehicles, which have risen to 12,000 units at the port terminal.

According to him, clearing the cargoes would require frequent visits to the Customs Zone A Office on Havey Road in Lagos for some of the overtime cargoes, adding that this alone could take over two weeks to process.

Meanwhile, The Trumpet learnt that Five Star Terminal and the PTML Terminal have offered to issue waivers to the agents in order to allow them to take quick delivery of the trapped vehicles.

Following the suspension of the strike on Monday, leadership of the freight forwarders held a meeting with management of Five Star Logistics Terminal to leverage specific days and times on the vessels which provide that agents who have gotten or written their TDO (Terminal Delivery Order) before the strike are free to take delivery by simply updating their TDO.

Apart from these, any vessel that arrived before the commencement of the protests was given 50 per cent, but it was learnt at the PTML Terminal, that the operator gave clearing agents 70 per cent waiver on the affected vessels.

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