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Grimaldi shipping

Grimaldi boss, reveals how Customs is driving corruption in vehicles clearance at ports

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The Managing Director of Grimaldi Agency Nigeria Limited, Mr. Ascanio Russo has opened up on how the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is encouraging diversion of vehicles imports to neighbouring ports, thereby causing the economy to lose money even though a ban had been placed on car imports via land borders.

It would be understood that the main reason behind importing cars through neighbouring ports is due to high rates of duties which stood at 70 per cent. In Cotonou, the main receiver of Nigeria bond vehicles, duties are far less than 70 per cent.

But apart from the high duties, the main problem apparently designed by the Customs in frustrating prospective importers in using Nigerian ports is shrouding in secrecy, the real value of imported vehicles upon which the duties will be calculated.

Russo made the touching revelation in an interview by saying “At the moment, unfortunately, the level of duties per vehicle is not published for everybody to know the vehicle price used by Customs to determine the amount of duties to be paid. We know the duty percentage applied but we don’t know the value of the vehicles”.

Continuing, Russo, the helmsman of Grimaldi which owns the biggest terminal for vehicle importation in West Africa situated at TinCan Island port said “If one knows that he is going to pay 35 per cent or 70 per cent for vehicles, the person should also know the price of the vehicle to determine the actual amount to pay as customs duties”.

“The minister of finance had since 2013 demanded the publication of the prices of vehicles but for some reasons, these prices have never been made public,” Russo revealed.

Efforts to find out from the hierarchy of Customs why these prices had not been made public four years on failed as no media officer of the Customs was reachable as at press time.

However, Russo pointed the way forward, saying first, the 2013 ministerial directive be implemented by the Customs and this will be followed by making  automating the process of vehicles clearance with minimal human interaction.

According to him, “We should try to reduce the level of physical intervention in the valuation process because it brings additional costs; which make the process of importation through Nigerian ports uncompetitive”.

While welcoming the recent ban on land border vehicle imports, he disclosed that it has not really had any significant impact on the number of vehicles being discharged in Lagos and other Nigerian ports because the closure of the border alone will not be sufficient inducement for importers to use the Nigerian ports.  The level of difference in duties in Nigeria is still too high. It is too expensive to import a car or truck into Nigeria using Nigerian seaports.

Russo added that “We believe that the next step should be to review the level of duties payable in Nigeria and also increase the level of transparency in the Customs clearance process”.


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