Customs Revenue Threatened as Seme Border Activities Are Badly Hampered

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Eromosele Abiodun

Activities at Nigeria’s Seme international land border, which links other West African countries and noted for its busy nature in vehicular and human traffic have been badly hampered, following the ban on importation of vehicle via the land borders and the current economic situation.

THISDAY investigation revealed that activities at the border, for the first time are at very low ebb, a development that has resulted in reduction in revenue generation.

Disturbed by the challenge and the state of this retrogressive phenomenon in the command’s revenue, the Customs Seme Command officials were said to have visited the Atlas Park and critical stakeholders to assess the situation and to know what can be done to reverse the trend.

The team, THISDAY learnt, had discovered to its chagrin, an empty park with some broken down/ empty trucks.

When contacted, the representative of the stakeholders and Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Seme Chapter, Lasisi Fanu attributed the problem to low level of economic activities and the prohibition of importation of vehicles, new and old, through land borders by the federal government.

He added that the upward review of the value of imported goods by as much as 150 per cent by the Tariff and Trade Unit of the NCS to commensurate with the value of the goods and to meet the current economic realities was not favourable to importers

This, he stressed made several importers to resort to change of route and divert their goods to routes that are less harmful to their business.

Fanu added that the annual China breaks that usually takes place from January to February could also be a contributory factor to the low and dwindling revenue bedeviling the command.

He also said the current economic recession occasioned by the increase in foreign exchange affected importation of general goods into the country.

The ANCLA chairman further disclosed that the situation does not only affect the revenue drive of the Command but the entire association rendering most of their members redundant.

THISDAY checks also revealed that the slow pace of economic activities commenced in the month of March 2017 after the NCS exhausted the backlog of uncleared goods at the Atlas Park in December, 2016.

The empty park, THISDAY learnt, indicated that there were no importations through the land border as at the time of the visit.

The Seme-Border Command Public Relation Officer, Taupyen Selchang told THISDAY that the downward trend in economic activities in the month of March, 2017 resulted to very low revenue figure generated by the command.

 He said the command recorded revenue of N474.52 million and made 62 seizures with a duty paid value (DPV) of N25.74 million for the period under review.

“It is pertinent to note that the challenge witnessed in the month of March, 2017 still persists, “he stated.

However, THISDAY findings revealed that the Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Mohammed Aliyu in an attempt to redeem the revenue profile of the command is engaging the critical stakeholders in series of mutual consultations on the way forward and also proffer solutions to get out of the ugly trend.

The comptroller has also warned that all units at the point of entry or exit must be seen to be facilitating legitimate trade across the frontier.

He reiterated that officer’s conducts that are found to be inimical to the ideals of the service will be made to face the full wrath of the law.

He concluded that officers must be professional in the performance of their core functions and must equally create a conducive and enabling working environment to ease business transaction among stakeholders at the International land border.