CUSTOMS COMPTROLLER GENERAL, INDE DIKKO ABDULLAHI
The new enhanced cargo exit being test-run by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Apapa Area I Command, is poised to resolve the bottleneck occasioned by delays in cargo clearance at the nation’s ports, the Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the command, Comptroller Mohammed Umar, has disclosed.
The resolve of the NCS to reduce the cargo dwell time (CDT) in the nation’s seaports is coming on the heels of complaints by importers, exporters, licensed customs agents and other ports users on the long period it takes to clear goods in the terminals in spite of government repeated assurance to implement 48 hours cargo clearance regime.
Although the time varies from terminal to terminal and from one port to the other, it takes about a week and in some cases over a week to clear cargo from the nation’s seaports.
Umar, who dropped the hint at a stakeholders’ forum held at the conference hall of the command in Papa, Lagos, said some of the problems associated with delay in cargo clearance included attempts by some people to cut corners.
According to the CAC, the new procedure also incorporates other government agencies such as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Umar said the procedure would enhance security checks at the ports, even as he noted that these were parts of the resolutions reached at the last stakeholders’ forum with the Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji Inde Dikko Abdullahi.
He assured the stakeholders who participated at the forum that the command was focused on what he called a “seamless ports operations”, and expressed regret that some agents for whatever reason were bent on jumping the gun.
“This could hinder governments 48 hours cargo clearance policy. It is through a forum like this that we can get feedback from other stakeholders, review procedures where necessary, highlight challenges and proffer solution to them”, he said.
According to Umar, the command under his watch does not claim any monopoly of knowledge. He assured that he would encourage healthy, progressive dialogue that would impact positively on achieving our collective goals.
“We should always have it at back of our minds that the need of our country Nigeria far supersedes that of any group or individual or individual”, he said.
Some stakeholders who participated at the forum complained about delay in cargo clearance, high port charges and transport difficulties. President of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) Chief Remi Ogungbemi, said lack of packing space has been hindering the operations of his members. He said efforts are been made to secure suitable packing space for his members.