Eromosele Abiodun

The Customs Area Comptroller of Tin-Can Customs Command, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Musa Baba Abdullahi, has disclosed that only 30 per cent of transactions at the ports comply with the requirements for trade.

Abdullahi, who made this known during a courtesy visit by members of the Shipping Correspondents Association of Nigeria (SCAN), stressed that compliance to trade rules was germane for trade facilitation to exist.

According to him, if importers or exporters are compliant with trade rules, then “we won’t have issues at the ports.”

“ But when we have traders or importers who are not compliant, and want to enjoy the benefits of trade facilitation, it is not possible.

“Most of the systems we operate are risk management based. They are systems that are supposed to run on their own, but because people are not compliant, it becomes practically impossible to have this systems run on their own.

“For example, the law provides that certain consignments should be scanned while certain types of consignment should be subjected to physical examination.

“Now if an importers consignment falls under physical examination, should we just push it for scanning because we want to facilitate trade? Its not possible.”

Trade facilitation, Abdullahi added, was hinged on three legs: Procedural, Infrastructure and Logistics.

“We have tried to perfect the procedural aspect of trade facilitation. In terms of infrastructure, some of these things are beyond Customs. For example, what has Customs got to do with lightening of the ports at nights?

“We do 24hours operations at the ports, but when infrastructures that are supposed to be in place are not there, and then there is nothing Customs can do about trade facilitation.

“It is not that we don’t have compliant traders or importers. We have the blue chip companies, the manufacturers and others. If we are to compile compliant traders at the ports, maybe we will have 30 per cent out of a hundred that are compliant, “he said.

Abdullahi added: “We really need to let traders and importers know that there are rewards for compliance. The rewards for compliance is that trade is faster.

“This complaint companies are placed on the Fast Track examination process, where cargoes are taken to their warehouse for physical examination.

“However, we have anticipated that some companies enjoying the Fast Track examination could be tempted to abuse it, and that is why we don’t hesitate to remove such companies from the Fast Track when they err.”