Stakeholders in the maritime industry have threatened legal action against the Federal Government over the attendant demurrages accruing from the persistent breakdown in the operations of the National Vehicle Registry (VREG) at Tin Can Port.

They lamented that a lot of people are paying unnecessary demurrage and storage charges leading to millions of naira being lost daily since the introduction of VREG

They said while the demurrages accrued are not the fault of the importer or agent, the Federal government must be compelled to pay the accruing demurrages on their vehicles.

The Vice President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto, said clearing agents have been unable to generate the VREG in the last three weeks due to server failures.

He said every vehicle imported into the country through the seaports was expected to pay some amount of money before migrating to the customs portal for assessment, noting that failure to pay the VREG fee will prevent access to the customs portal for valuation.

He observed that in the last few weeks when payments are made to the VREG portal, it fails to update the customer’s status to enable him to move to the next level to clear the vehicle, thereby forcing the vehicle to accumulate storage.

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“VREG was introduced in 2021 by the Ministry of Transportation to have data of all vehicles coming into the country. Nobody is addressing this issue from Customs as they say it is not their making. VREG is domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Finance and the issue is believed to be between the consortium and the Ministry.

“I believe that the sector does not need VREG because it seems to be another means to extort importers. If the government wants data of vehicles cleared legitimately from the ports, all they need to do is to liaise with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

“Honestly, if it continues like this, we may not have a choice but to go to court to challenge the Federal government on this issue of VREG so that the government will start paying demurrages for our consignments because it is not our making,” he lamented.

Farinto admonished the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed to look into the issues and make the process seamless.

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Also, Five Star Logistics Terminal, one of the biggest roll-on-roll-off (RORO) vehicles at the Tin Can Island port of Lagos, lamented that due to its failure, vessels are now being delayed for several days.

The Customer Care Manager, Chuks Okereafor, confirmed that the failure impedes trade and needs review.

“I have witnessed where VREG delayed vessel for four days. Once you capture 500 cars and during upload to get Customs assessment, errors will not be easily traced and the delay of custom documentation consequently delays receivers from taking direct delivery from the RoRo vessel.

“Customs can generate same VINs from PAAR and upload same for VREG for their usage. VREG personnel does not show capacity and to understand the consequences of their delays,” he said.