[dropcap]V[/dropcap]ON Automobiles Nigeria Limited, a Lagos based multiple vehicle assemblers, has urged the Federal Government to control importation of used vehicles into the country to forestall emission consequences of old vehicles on the environment and intimidating breakdowns in vehicular traffic.
VON Automobiles Managing Director, Tokunbo Aromolaran, who made this plea last weekend, during an oversight inspection of the plant by the Senate Committee on Import Waivers, Concession and Grants, advised the government to introduce proficient road worthiness act and vehicle emission standard to forestall wanton importation of unserviceable vehicles into the country.
“If only you would help us to control tokunbo cars,” he pleaded, “we can produce a whole lot of these small cars at very low prices. And as you are aware, tokunbo vehicles pollute the environment and cause gratuitous breakdowns on the roads.”
Also warning it was time Nigeria ceased to create Jobs in foreign countries where fully-built up vehicles are made, the plant managing director said: “We are not going to develop our local industries and our children won’t get to work, if adequate measures aren’t implemented to raise the bar for local production.”
Among the senate delegation that were taken round VON Automobile facility and vehicle warehouses were Senator Mohammed Aliero, Chairman Senate Committee on Import Waivers, Concession and Grants, Senator Gershom Bassey (member), Mr. Victor Efiong, clerk of the Committee and Mr. Felix Okonti a consultant.
Earlier in his presentation, Mr. Aromolaran told the visiting legislature that prices of locally assembled vehicles can only become competitive when policy and environment are right to justify economics of car production.
“It is my ultimate goal to produce at least 1000 units of vehicles monthly so as to bring down unit prices of locally assembled vehicles, but there is yet no volume to operate at optimal capacity,” Mr. Aromolaran lamented, adding that, “VON Automobiles can create substantial direct and indirect employment if the environment is right, as all the safety materials we use in buses assembled at our factory are sourced locally. Some of these items include windshield, window frames, sealants and labour.”
VON Automobile has since it began vehicle assembly three years ago, improvised series of factory infrastructures currently used at the plant for production and these gadgets have saved huge foreign exchange cost, the managing director affirmed.
“We started operations in 2012 before the auto policy was inaugurated and we have since then been determined to integrate backwards. A lot of our infrastructures are locally fabricated and this is because we are an import substitution industry.”
“Instead of keeping people in Japan working, let’s kick-start our factories here, we will never get there if we don’t start,” Mr. Aromolaran reasoned.
The VON director listed some of the existing challenges confronting vehicle assembly plants in the country as: inaccessibility to foreign exchange, delay in the implementation of the auto policy, unavailability of consumer credit scheme and lackluster government patronage.
He advocated total reversal of these anomalies if the general public including customers must benefit immensely from vehicles assembled in the country.
VON Automobiles are assemblers of various brands of vehicles including Hyundai passenger cars and commercial vehicles; Volkswagen cars, Chinese range of cars, buses and trucks; AshokLeyland buses and Stallion badge 7-ton military troop carriers.