About 12,000 imported vehicles currently trapped at the ports in Lagos during the ongoing strike action in the sector have attracted N600 million demurrage.

Clearing agents at the nation’s seaports, two weeks ago embarked on industrial action to protest against the newly introduced Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) regime by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS) lamented that the N600 million demurrage is a result of the two weeks strike action.

The association lamented that the demurrage will be borne by the importers, and which automatically, will impact on their operational cost.

Jonathan Nicol, president of SALS at a briefing jointly held by the SALS, and the NdigboAmaka Progressive Association, requested the cancellation of the new policy by the NCS which he said, caused the current situation at the seaports.

“The VIN regime must be discarded immediately. They must ensure that all the trapped vehicles are given accelerated clearance from the ports without major demurrages because the challenge was not created by importers.

“These 12,000 vehicles attract daily demurrages and shipping line charges and that is quite enormous. When you quantify how much importers are paying for demurrages, it is amounting to over N600million. We cannot continue to accommodate such expenses anymore.

“Never in the history has the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) generated over N1trillion duty. Now, they are making N2trillion which should be enough for the Service”.

“The VIN policy is pathetic and we think enough is enough.”

President, NdigboAmaka Progressive Associate, Jude Ringo Okeke explained that Freight Forwarders are having a bitter experience with the NCS and other government agencies in the or their consignments.

“The barrage of complaints has reached a breaking point that is no longer bearable”, he said.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in January introduced VIN, a new valuation system used for allocating standard values to all vehicles coming into the country.

The system, according to Customs, automatically determines the value of import duty that an importer is expected to pay on any imported cars immediately after the vehicle is passed through a dedicated scanning machine.

Saidu Galadima, assistant comptroller general of Customs, ICT/Modernisation, said VIN is an automated system that would aid the valuation of imported vehicles entering into the country through all Nigeria’s approved entering points.

Vehicles are one of the major imports that come into the country regularly and the idea behind VIN was to address the agitation of clearing agents and other port users who have requested a standardised valuation system.