Car dealers groan over new import policy, call for reversal

    Mixed reactions have trailed the ban on the importation of vehicles through land borders with some of the dealers calling the policy anti people while others said it would boost national economy.

    Some of the vehicle dealers in Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Kaduna States also said in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria [NAN] that the policy should be relaxed to give them time to adjust.

    In Kaduna State, the Treasurer of Car Dealers Association, Aminu Ibrahim claimed that the policy had forced prices of vehicles to go up beyond the reach of Nigerians.

    “Patronage has completely ceased because of the hike in prices of cars resulting from the policy, and this has resulted to huge job losses.

    “For example, I had to lay off seven staff from my pay role and placed four others on half salary because of the situation the new policy had put us on.

    “I am telling you the jobs of over 500, 000 people employed by different car dealers across the country are threatened by the policy and I am afraid many will have to go eventually,” he said.

    He called for the policy to be suspended, adding “we have already submitted a proposal to the government with our advice on the best way forward.

    ”Baba Abdullahi of Dan-Kakalo Motors Kaduna, said that the policy would eventually put a lot of car dealers out of business.

    “Even before the policy, car dealers were battling with the problem of exchange rates which led to slight increase processing of cars.

    “The Federal Government have increased Import Duty for 2003 to 2005 Model from N120,000 to N130,000 to N650,000, which further compounded the issue.

    “By the time you consider the exchange rate; pay import duty and pay bill of landing among other charges, it means no one will get a car for less than two million. This is bad for business,” Abdullahi said.

    Also, Alhaji Sule Abdu of Madalla Motor Dealers, Zaris said the ban on importation of vehicle through land border had made prices of vehicles to shoot up.

    “Nigeria is suffering from economic down turn, people don’t have money, yet the prices of vehicles have gone up, so only few individuals have the purchasing power.

    “Therefore, the market is so low that to even maintain your staff is a big problem because there is no sales,” he said.

    Abdu appealed to Federal Government to consider the possibility of providing soft loan to motor dealers to enable them remain in the business.

    Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed, another car dealer said the policy had negatively affected the in-flow of vehicles into the country.

    The Sokoto State Chairman of the Motor Dealers Association, Alhaji Muntari Mafia urged the government to rescind the ban, as part of efforts to get Nigeria out of recession.

    “This is to boost the economic growth of the country, curb poverty and reduce unemployment-induced crimes.

    “Even though the federal government has its wisdom for implementing the policy, it is ill-timed, considering the economic recession, high foreign exchange rate and increasing unemployment.”

    Mafia noted that the prevailing economic situation in the country had reduced the ability of Nigerians to purchase vehicles.

    He lamented that the low value of the naira, coupled with the high exchange rate had ”conspired” to kill the automobiles business in parts of the nation.

    Mafia maintained that the high prices of automobiles had gone beyond the reach of average Nigerians, saying,” that is why our business premises have been deserted.

    “We are humbly and passionately appealing to the federal government to reverse the ban.

    “This is because auto dealers have only being struggling to survive the harsh economic situation.

    “The downward review of duties on imported automobiles would also boost socioeconomic activities, hence, bolster revenue generation for the federal government.”

    In Kebbi, car dealers are also complaining of low sales, job losses and difficult business environment.

    Alhaji Muhammadu Dan-Ali, the state Chairman of motor dealers association claimed the policy was haphazardly implemented.

    He said that the association had demanded for a three months window period to allow the members adjust to the new policy but was ignored by the government.

    According to him an estimated 1,000 people engaged in car sales business in the state risk loosing their jobs as result of the ban.

    Alhaji Shehu Mohammed of Ijaba Motors Nigeria Ltd in Birnin Kebbi said most of them were still studying the situation.

    He called on federal government to review the policy as it had created unnecessary hardship on the people which may result into security threat.

    Malam Aminu Bagudo, General Manager, Gamzaki Motors Nig Ltd, described the ban as unpopular, disclosing that most of the 110 staff of the company had relocated to Lagos and Cotonou in Benin Republic.

    Alhaji Mamman Ambursa, a customer, said he had wanted to swap his car with another but had to shelve the idea due to the high cost of vehicles.

    In Kano State, some of the car dealers urged the government to reverse the policy because of its negative effects on their business.

    According to to them, majority of the dealers have been sent out of business since the policy began.

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