Freight forwarders have appealed to the Federal Government to grant a statutory waiver of rent and demurrage accumulated as a result of the protest by Licensed Customs Agents (LCA) on the implementation of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) valuation on imported vehicles.

This is just as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has approved a one-month window to enable freight forwarders to clear the backlog of vehicles held up in the ports as a result of the strike action, effective March 8, 2022.

The freight forwarders had decried losing over N500 billion as rent and demurrage with over 12, 000 vehicles trapped at seaports due to the protests that held for days.

They said the waiver on rent and demurrage by shipping companies and terminal operators was covered in section 152 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 45 of 2004.

Representing the Licensed Customs Agents, the President, National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, said government needs to implement the provision of section 152, by waiving rent and demurrage associated with delays in dispute of the implementation of VIN valuation, which is under Customs dispute as contained in the statutory provision.

“The statutory provision of the Act covers goods associated with a delay that is undergoing dispute resolution as to valuation, classification, rule of origin, intellectual property right and investigation activities,” he said.

Meanwhile, section 152 reads: “When any goods are deposited in a Customs areas (Terminals) or in a Government warehouse under or by virtue of any provision of this Act and the Board is of the opinion that having regards to all the circumstances of the case no rent or reduced rent shall be charged therefore, it may waive or reduce any rent payable or refund the whole or any part of any rent paid under this Act.”

However, the Customs National Public Relations Officer, Timi Bomodi, yesterday, said all Customs Area controllers have been directed to monitor the transition period and ensure manual assessments are in full compliance with extant laws.

The NCS said uniform application of rebates would be used for all vehicles using correct values for assessment during the exercise.

The NCS also noted that the VIN-Valuation protocol is still in operation as reviews and updates are being captured in its systems to reflect the genuine concerns of stakeholders.