The prices of fairly used cars known as ‘Tokumbo’ have skyrocketed due to tight border control and soaring exchange rates.
A cross-section of car dealers, who spoke with NAN in Abuja on Thursday, lamented that the development was stiffening them out of business.
Alhaji Ali Adamu, a car dealer told the Agency that in the past one month, it had been difficult for him to move cars from Cotonou in the Benin Republic to Nigeria.
Adamu said many vehicles that were brought through unapproved routes were seized by officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
“We are all apprehensive now; nobody wants to take a risk of bringing in cars through our usual routes to avoid customs checks and seizure.
“I and other dealers here, now go to Lagos to buy already cleared vehicles where customs duties are paid on them to sell.
“By the time you add the duty charges, you will realise it is no longer business as usual,’’ he said.
Another car dealer, Faisal Shehu, attributed the increase in the current prices of cars to a high exchange rate.
Shehu disclosed that a 2008 model fairly used Toyota Camry from Europe that used to be sold at N1.8 million now sells at between N2.8 million and N3 million.
According to him, a model of Peugeot 406 is now selling at N3.2 million as against N1.8 million.
Mr Mark Atabo, who sells Nigeria used cars in Abuja said the high price of Tokunbo cars had pushed people to go for Nigeria used cars.
He said that due to the high demand and scarcity, the prices of Nigerian used cars had also gone up.
Atabo stated that the price of Nigerian used Peugeot 206 had risen to N1 million from N650,000 sold a few months ago.
He said the price of a used Honda Accord, 2008 model had also gone up to N2 million from N1.5 million.
Meanwhile, Mrs Margaret John, who came in search of a Nigerian used Toyota Camry (pencil light) told NAN at a car mart in Abuja that she was amazed at the sudden increase in the prices of cars.
She said that for more than one month now, she has been searching for a used Toyota Camry to buy but could not get it.
She decried the high cost of Tokunbo cars, adding that she could not afford that hence the reason for her interest in the Nigerian used cars.
NAN reports that the Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali, had said that the service had tightened the borders through effective policing in collaboration with customs in neighbouring countries.
When Ali was hosted at NAN flagship programme, ‘NAN Forum’ recently, he disclosed that a joint border patrol had been set up in conjunction with neighbouring Benin Republic and Niger to ensure effective policing of the borders.
“We reopened our borders and we are now working with our neighbours, our counterparts in Niger and Benin Republic.
“We have to come up with a concept that now gives us the chance to monitor and manage our borders without closing the exits and entrances.
“So, that is how we came up with joint border patrol,’’ he explained.
Ali said that every country involved had established its own patrol but there had been synergy so far among the operators of this joint border patrol.
According to him, officers and men involved in this patrol often communicate and share intelligence with one another for effective management of borders.
“If there are movements of illicit persons or goods, they communicate from that end to our end, so also we do.
“We have also exchanged the list of prohibited items, like those items the Benin Republic do not want in its country.
“So, we make sure we block them here before they cross.
“Also from the other side, there are things we don’t want to see in Nigeria.
“For instance, poultry products are still prohibited from entering Nigeria.
“The agreement is that, on monthly basis, we will continue to get reports on how things are unfolding.
“On a daily basis, there will be an interaction between them and it is our hope that this will help in reducing the influx of illicit items in or out of Nigeria.”