In a bid to beat smugglers at their game, the Seme Command of Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) and its Benin Republic counterpart on Friday established a new vehicle transit regime.
The Area Controller of the Seme Command of the NCS, Mr Willy Egbudin, said at the inauguration of the new regime in Badagry that the measure would reduce the smuggling of vehicles.
There is a park in Cotonou, near Seme, where vehicles coming into Nigeria are parked to pay N5, 000 per vehicle for easy passage. The process gives fillip to the smuggling of vehicles into the country.
According to Egbudin, with the new vehicle transit regime, the Benin Customs will hand over imported cars from Benin to Nigeria Customs.
“A fixed location for the formal handling over was mutually accepted to be at the front of the Gendarmerie Office at the Seme border complex,’’ he said.
“We have been working on various ways to strengthen the relationship between Nigeria Customs and our Beniniose counterpart and this has gone a long way in doing that.
“We know the importance of synergy between the two customs administrations in revenue collection, anti smuggling and facilitation of legitimate trade, the Seme area controller said.
According to him, the new vehicle transit regime will drastically reduce smuggling of vehicles and boost revenue for government.
“My joy knows no bounds because this transit arrangement will reduce the loss of lives of our officers and smugglers.’’
Egbudin said that the regime would reduce the security challenges in the country.
“With this, we will be able to conduct proper examinations on the vehicles to ensure that arms and ammunition are not smuggled into the country.
“This will also help to reduce the rate at which youths in this area engage in smuggling because the vehicles will be handed over directly to the customs,” he said.
Imorin Idrisso, the Chef de Brigade in Charge of Enforcement of Customs in Cotonou, said that the Benin Government was committed to assisting Nigeria.
“Issues in Nigeria are also our issues, so we are always glad to help Nigeria in the little ways we can.
“This is part of the reasons why the Benin Government decides to officially relate with the Nigerian Customs because we are committed to strengthening the relationships between both parties,” he said.
Mr Lawrence Obisakin, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, said the handing over would bring transparency and help in boosting the economy of Nigeria.
“The benefits of today’s ceremony will formalise and record the bilateral trade that represents about 10,000 vehicles per week; it will increase transparency and boost Nigeria’s economy.
“It will enhance our bilateral trade with Benin which is a key gateway to the ECOWAS market and encourage Nigerian exporters too,” the ambassador said. [NAN]