Following the persistent server failure being recorded on the VREG portal leading to accumulation of demurrage by importers and their agents, the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has threatened to drag the federal government to court to compel it to pay the accruing demurrages on the imported vehicles arguing that the frequent server failure was not their (agents) making.
The National Vice President of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto who issued the threat in a chat with newsmen in Lagos on Friday recalled that the federal government introduced VREG about few months ago adding that with VREG, every vehicle imported into the country through the seaports was expected to pay some amount of money before migrating to the customs portal for assessment.
According to him, if one failed to pay the VREG fee, one will not be able to migrate to the customs portal.
He observed that in the last few weeks, the VREG server deployed by the operators had been epileptic saying even when one makes payment, it would fail to update the customer’s status to enable him move to the next level to clear the vehicle thereby forcing the vehicle to accumulate storages and nobody seemed to be interested in doing anything to arrest the situation.
He explained that “VREG was introduced by the Federal Ministry of Finance and the explanation was that they want to have all the data of vehicles that legitimately come into the country through seaports and a certain fee was attached to every vehicle that is coming into the seaports depending on your cubic capacity, the type of vehicle you are clearing and the mode – whether it is SUV, smaller cars or buses but the most important thing is that you cannot clear any consignment, you cannot generate any assessment in the seaports without first of all paying for VREG.
“It is not as if we are complaining for the importers but the fact that you cannot even generate this VREG and pay on time is what we are talking about and the fact that it is making our importers to pay too much storage, most time, it could take three to four days, they will tell you that the server is down, you cannot move forward until you generate the VREG. It has been done in such a way that they key into customs portal and maybe the people that actually midwife this software did not do a thorough job or maybe they didn’t deploy a modern software.
“So, you have a situation where there is always problem on a daily basis on the VREG platform. Our members are suffering and we want the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Finance to urgently do something about this.
“Honestly, if it continues like this, we may not have a choice than to go to court to challenge the federal government on this issue of VREG as individuals, freight forwarders that the government should start paying demurrages for our consignment because it’s not our making.”
Farinto who is also the Managing Director of Wealthy Honey Investment Limited disclosed that the Ministry actually contracted a Consortium that was collecting this money on her behalf noting that “you cannot do any clearing of vehicle in the seaports without first of all paying the VREG fee and it depends on the cubic capacity of your vehicle, the make and the type. When you do that, you now graduate to the VIN implementation which was introduced by the Nigeria Customs Service.”
“Before now, all you needed to do was to go to the Nigeria Customs Valuation Unit, tender your bill of lading and they will give you value. But now, once you have your genuine invoice and you migrate from VREG, you just input your data, the system must collect it and issue you with assessment of what to pay immediately.
“The VREG is controlled by the Federal Ministry of Finance while the VIN Number is controlled by the Nigeria Customs Service on vehicle clearance in the seaports”, he further explained.
Speaking on the fee payable on the VREG portal, he said, “There’s no specific amount but they did it in such a way that the minimum is N4,000 up to N30,000. They are the ones that know the parameter they are using.”