Business Hilights
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Lebanese, highest car importers in Cotonou confused, begin to close shops–Survey

Investigations have revealed that the kingpins of car inflows from Cotonou to Nigeria via land border are Lebanese and the prevailing ban on car imports via land borders has forced them to close shops.

It was also discovered that Lebanese are closely followed by Nigerians in car imports as only about less than 10 per cent are imported by indigenes.

Further investigations also revealed since after the ban, there has been a surge in seizure and forfeiture triggered by increased Customs surveillance.

But whereas there is still high risks in ‘flying cars’ into Nigeria, a popular slogan at the border for smuggling, Customs make a daily average seizure of 10 to 26 cars while about three to seven cars escape arrest.

Some of the Lebanese who spoke to Business Hilights said importing cars in Benin Republic with the aim of selling them in Nigeria had been their key business for more than one decade.

They claimed to have invested much into the business and are now more confused on what next since the ban has become real.

The main impact of the ban on car imports via the land borders in Benin can be observed from multiple loss of jobs as all those employed either directly or indirectly in car business have lost their jobs following the ban.

A senior Customs officer who guided Business Hilights correspondent in the course of this investigation before the ban, “There were about 3000 car dealer shops in Benin Republic. But as I speak to you, more than half has closed shops and as you can see, many are roaming the streets doing nothing.”

On how the Seme Border Customs has been battling the effects of the ban, especially smuggling, the officer who pleaded anonymity said  “The Command have deployed most of their officers to patrol teams and we have created additional teams to monitor newly discovered route to make sure that smuggling of any kind is tamed”.

“Don’t forget that Customs within a matter of seconds have known any new route and it is our duty to block same. Although smuggling still takes place, many vehicles are being caught these days because we now have more hands and our men are dedicated on duty.

Continuing while showing our correspondent the array of seized cars which seem to be outweighing parting capacity, the officer revealed many of the seized cars were half paid for by the end user pending when the smuggler delivers at the delivery point in Nigeria.

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