[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ollowing new FOREX policy recently announced by the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN), more car importers are switching over to importation of accident vehicles, mostly from United States of America (USA).
Motoring World search revealed that between 30th March and 30th June 2016, Accident vehicles importation through the nation’s seaports increased by over 30%, as non-accident ones reduce by over 50%.
This line of business is now more attractive, because dealers get to buy the accident vehicles cheaper in the US and pay lower import duties on them.
A Lagos-based accident vehicle importer, who spoke to Motoring World correspondent in anonymity, said the recent FOREX policy of the federal government has made importation of normal used vehicle more expensive and so unprofitable.
“For an accident vehicle in the US, you could pay less than 20% of what you could have paid for a non-accident used vehicle,” he explained. “And at the point of entry (port) you pay far less duty.”
On how he manages to sell the vehicles, the respondent told Motoring World he has a body repair shop, where the vehicles are taken straight to for repair before being displayed for sale.
“When we finish repairing the vehicles and repaint them,” he pointed out, “they look like new vehicles and so we make more profit. Mind you, most of the accident vehicles we import only have damaged body, but their engines are still virtually new.”
Another shipper who specializes in importation of America-used brands; Mr Bernard Chukwueke told Motoring World International that under the present economic climate, it is easier to get a repaired accident vehicle sold in Nigeria than non-accident ones.
“Although the price is determined by level of damage,” Chukwueke explained, “it is still by far cheaper at the end of the day compared to buying a non-accident vehicle.”
Another shipper of America-used brands; Mr Idowu Adesulumi told Auto Port Weekly recently that cost, year of manufactured and degree of damage are the three cardinal things that the dealers look out for.
However, Motoring World findings revealed that many of the accident vehicles imported may look good after passing through body repair shop, they are technically not roadworthy. Essentially safety standard and features of many of the vehicles would have been compromised. For instance, chassis of many of such vehicles would have become weak after accidents and so destined for scrap yards, where they would have been grinded and recycled.
Motoring World even gathered that many importers of the accident vehicles actually source them from scrap yards. And they are imported and cleared as scrap, not as vehicles, which is why import duties paid on them are significantly low.
Motoring World correspondent approached a motorist, riding a very neat Honda Pilot but with Airbag indicator light continuously on. When asked if he knew why the light had been on, his answer was: “Well, it has been like that since I bought the car and my mechanic assured me it means nothing. “
But when further questioned, it was revealed that the Honda Pilot is a repaired, imported accident vehicle. A badly damaged vehicle, the car was taken to a workshop somewhere in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria, where body work was carried out, after which it came out like new.
The fact remains, if the said Honda Pilot ever gets involved in a road crash, chances of its driver and other occupants surviving are remote, as essential safety features, especially airbags, have been compromised as a result of accident it had in its country of origin.
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