Business Edge | Nigerian Government and Maritime Workers Face-Off

Efforts by the management of the Nigerian Customs Service to get protesting clearing agents and maritime workers back to work appeared to have run into a deadlock as the meeting between the two parties ended in a stalemate. The freight forwarders operating both at the Tin Can Island and the Customs command began an indefinite protest last week following the expiration of a 72-hour ultimatum it issued given to the Nigerian government to review the electronic valuation system for imported vehicles and cargo. The government in conjunction with the Central Bank of Nigeria had recently introduced the e-valuation and e-invoicing policy for imported goods using a vehicle identification number for the valuation system. However, this new scheme has not been well received by the maritime workers, owing to issues of overestimation that skyrockets clearing fees and other levies. After the meeting, they insisted that members of their unions will continue to down tools until the Nigerian government yields. Business Edge on Thursday looks at these face-offs with a view to break down the impact of the strike on the fledgling Nigerian economy, if there’s a possibility for the deadlock to be resolved and Nigeria’s maritime industry in general. Tolulope Adeleru-Balogun is joined by Dr Bolaji Akinola, a maritime expert and spokeman of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria.

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“The vehicle identification number is the contentious issue”, Dr Akinola says, explaining the policy was in fact introduced last year and that the Customs Service is only now just using it for the purpose of imposing value on imported vehicles, in order to determine the import duty payable on those goods. When the VIN was newly introduced, it served as a way to track the history of used cars being imported into Nigeria. The fact that the Customs Service has deployed it as a way to collect increased import duty is what irks the maritime workers and this has led to the industrial action. The implication of this is that cost of imported used cars has tripled.

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Watch the full conversation above.

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