Grimaldi bemoans high rate of cargo diversion to Cotonou port

The Managing Director of Grimaldi Agency Nigeria Ltd., Mr Ascannio Russo, has bemoaned the high rate of diversion of imported vehicles to Cotonou port by some Nigerian importers. 

Russo said in an interview in Lagos on Tuesday that the development was not friendly to the company and had given the management some concerns.

Grimaldi is the concessionaire of Ports and Terminal Multi-Services Ltd (PTML) at Tin-Can Island, Lagos.

He, however said that the company was optimistic that government would address the problems, based on the response of the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, who was at the Lagos ports on assessment.

``We are concerned of the diversion of vehicles traffic to Benin Republic. This is of high concern to us.

``Most of the vehicles which are for Nigeria; they are now coming through Cotonou port and this is of concern to us.

``Sure, from what he (the Transportation Minister) is saying, we are encouraged that the Federal Government is going to address this issue.

``Basically by controlling the smuggling through the borders with the support of customs.

``So, we are confident this issue will be addressed.

``Ideally for us, we are of the opinion that vehicles should be allowed to be customs-released in Nigeria only if they are discharged in Nigerian ports and not at the border.

``So, any importer that wants to clear vehicles for Nigeria should do it at customs command in Nigerian ports and not at the border,’’ Russo said.

NAN reports that some Nigerian importers of vehicle have over the years cleared their vehicles through the ports of neighbouring countries claiming that duty is cheaper.

NAN also reports that the challenge has been that most of the diverted vehicles are smuggled into the country without paying the prescribed customs duty.