The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) on Friday urged freight forwarding associations protesting against the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Valuation Policy at the Lagos ports to suspend their protest in the interest of Nigerian economy.
According to the council, the development is also expected to create conducive atmosphere for the Council to hold dialogue with all stakeholders.
The Executive Secretary, NSC, Mr Emmanuel Jime made the appeal after meeting with some of the association heads in Lagos.
He also said that hoodlums were cashing in on the protests to perpetrate different activities at the ports, describing it as one of the unintended consequences of the protest.
Jime appealed to the protesting associations to step down their actions and give room for a conversation with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Jime explained that economic activities in the port were the primary concern of shipper’s council.
“Information at our disposal is that PTML is blocked, the implication is other terminals that are not involved in these activities will be affected and this is an unintended consequence.
“So there is need to step down actions to give room for negotiation with the Nigeria Customs Service.
“I will like to think that as leaders, the ability to stay forthright to your followership is the determinant to leading the group, and so I will not like to leave this place with the impression that you cannot call your followership to order.
“This is very important because if we leave this meeting and I can get an undertaking a commitment coming out from you, that is the foundation that I will be discussing going forward,” he said.
Jime said that this would give him greater legitimacy and the authority to further negotiation on their behalf, hence the need to have something concrete to discuss with.
He pleaded that a committee be set up between the freight forwarding associations and shippers council, to put up a document that would be presented to customs.
The shipper’s council chief said that the document would be argued convincingly, adding that he believed that they would get to the root of the matter in a way that would leave everybody happy.
He pointed out that the summary of the discussion was that no one was against the implementation of the policy, but the methodology of the implementation.
“If that is the case, you have a good foundation to escalate the issue, but the implication of downing tools, as legitimate as it is, is that you invite unfortunately and accidentally a component that is unintended.
“It is clear that hoodlums have taken over the port, and that is the unintended consequence, so, I think that we should step down actions and give us room to have a conversation with customs.
“As we are done with this conversation, that is the next step I will take and this is a promise,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Abdulazeez Babatunde, National Secretary of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), noted that several issues were observed in the VIN valuation design.
He said they had urged customs to revert to manual process while these issues were resolved.
“We aren’t against automation because it’s what we have always wanted, but the process must be transparent and realistic.
“It is important to note that 70-90 per cent of vehicles are imported through Tin Can and PTML.
“Customs have agreed that the VIN valuation design neglected the extant laws on wear and tear as well as the 10 per cent depression in value of used cars,” he said.
Also speaking, the Deputy National President of NAGAFF, Dr Segun Musa warned that Customs persistence with the current VIN valuation process would lead to increase in smuggling activities.
He said that some importers could begin to explore other means of bringing in their vehicles.
“Going forward, we are giving our words to allow general cargo to operate immediately, but RoRo will remain until they get the response from the executive secretary’s meeting with customs.
“The essence of doing this is to show that we are flexible, we are not rigid, as we are all looking for solutions,” he said.
Clearing agents protest, which commenced February 21, 2022 have crippled economic activities at the Lagos ports with protest at the Tin Can Island Port and PTML Terminal over the VIN valuation policy.The policy was introduced by the Nigeria Customs Service for imported vehicles.