The Federal Government has hinted at relaxing its ban on importation of vehicles through the land border following the successful implementation of a new initiative by the Nigeria Customs Service and the Customs Service of the Republic of Benin to automate and network all electronic information about incoming cargoes through the border.
The Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali (retd.) who stated this at a stakeholders’ meeting on the new initiative, expressed optimism that with the successful implementation of the bilateral electronic connectivity programme between the two countries, the Federal Government might lift the ban on items coming through the land border.
Ali who was represented by the Service’s Assistant Comptroller, Information and Communication Technology, Benjamin Aber, noted that the decision of the government to shut down importation of vehicles through the border was because the government did not have a reliable system that would assist in controlling importation.
He said the new platform would be deployed by June 20.
“Vehicles were formerly being imported through the Seme Border, but suddenly it was banned because the pressure of enforcement of anti-smuggling for vehicles and claiming of lives and revenue were becoming too alarming, so the government had to restrict the importation through Nigerian ports,” Ali said.
“When vehicles came through the land border, we did not have a record of how the imported cars came here and fake documentation became a common phenomenon. The ban was just a control measure against the practice.”
“By the time we successfully deploy this reliable, transparent and predictable programme that would assist government agencies, not only Customs, to control and regulate the importation of vehicles, the government may decide to relax such restrictions.”
The Customs boss explained that the establishment of the automated platform and bilateral connectivity means that any truck that leaves the Republic of Benin, the information would be remotely sent in English to Nigeria Customs Service system.
He assured that illegal checkpoints mounted by Customs officers and other security agencies along the border corridors would disappear automatically, pointing out that the roads have to be fixed as well.
The Federal Government had in January 2017 ordered a ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders.