From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Association of Motor Dealers of Nigeria (AMDON) has extolled President Muhammadu Buhari and the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali for heeding its call for a tariff slash on imported vehicles, as a way of improving Nigerians’ livelihood and ultimately solving the transportation nightmare.
In an interview with journalists in Abuja at the weekend, the National President of AMDON, Prince Ajibola Adedoyin, said that the decision to reduce the duties and tariff on imported vehicles that carry more than 10 persons from 35% to 5% was a soothing development that must be applauded.
He called on the government to extend the reduction to cars and minivans that carry less than 10 persons, which make up the bulk of the vehicles used for intra-city and intercity transportation.
‘It’s a welcome development. We’ve been at the forefront of this for some years now, trying to let the government know that there is a need to allow levies to be reduced on imported used vehicles. We’ve made several presentations to relevant authorities,’ he said.
‘In fact, in this part of our world, that is the only means of transportation accessible to over 200 million people and that is why it’s been part of our cry for the government to bring down the price of imported vehicles. We want to really thank Mr President for this gesture and the CG of Customs for presenting our case to the President.
‘However, we feel there’s still room for improvement. Our line of argument is that whatever affects transportation affects the economy and I think it was based on that thinking that the reduction in clearing cost was only limited to commercial vehicles and tractors.
‘Nonetheless, we want Mr President to also know that a larger percentage of the so-called cars that are not captured in this reduction to be used for commercial transportation. That is why we said the government can do more. The cars should be included in this tariff reduction. We are not making a case for luxurious ones. They shouldn’t have limited it to vehicles that can carry more than 10 persons. If you look at our roads, there are some vehicles that are used for commercial transportation that only carry six or seven passengers. These sorts of vehicles are widely used commercially. We are talking of Toyota Sienna, Volkswagen Sharon and co. These vehicles are everywhere for commercial purposes. Even cars too. They are used for intracity and intercity transportation. That is why we said the government needs to do more and capture this category of vehicles in the tariff reduction. We’re giving him kudos for what he has done so far because it takes a strong political will to do so. But we urge him to do more.’
On the criticisms that have trailed the tariff reduction initiative, especially from local vehicle automobile companies who claim the move will distort the Nigerian auto policy blueprint, Adedoyin said their position was illogical because Nigeria only has vehicle assembly plants that cobble together cars that are not accessible and affordable to Nigerians for commercial and personal use.
The AMDON president challenged the Nigerian Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) and other Nigerian vehicle assemblers to collaboratively come up with a locally designed and produced car that will cost between N1.5-N1.7 million.
‘I can tell you that it is a doable thing. It might not be to some people’s standard but it is doable and will serve well. What you just need to do is remove most of the luxury accessories, design a good body, get the right engine and gearbox and other vital components and you produce a good car meant for our type of climate and terrain.
‘Also, you design a maintenance blueprint and you’re in business. We can start from there. From there, you can move into trucks that can convey heavy goods.
‘Recently, I was sad that despite all we’ve been crying out for and pointing the way to go, we heard that what the NADDC was going to unveil is an electric car.
‘In this country, we love waste and that is why we’re not going anywhere. We keep going round in circles. For God’s sake, we said design for us a made in Nigeria car that is accessible and affordable. If not, we will remain in the same spot,’ he explained.
Adedoyin added that the association will never stand against locally produced vehicles but insists that the approach must be transparent, sincere, logical and rational.
‘In the first instance, AMDON will never stand against any sincere attempt to make Nigeria a car manufacturing country. No, we will not do that. Rather, we are for it. We want Nigeria to become a vehicle manufacturing nation. It is our dream. It is what we want.
‘Go and read the history of India’s auto industry. They started with tricycles and grew gradually. We can start small too and grow. Let’s not fool ourselves that we will jump into electric cars when we can’t produce tyres. Taxpayers’ money will continue to go down the drain without any fruitful thing to show for it. After several years, we will come back to the basics,’ he noted.