The Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN) has applauded the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd.) over the recent reversal of ban on the use of barges to move cargoes at the nation’s seaports.
The President of BOAN, Mr. Edeme Kelikume, who stated this at a media briefing in Lagos, noted that lifting of the ban would allow its members resume operations across the country’s waterways.
However, BOAN has requested the NCS authorities, in accordance with government procedures, to issue a circular effecting the reversal.
The customs had recently banned barging activities along the waterways, citing irregularities and safety concerns.
Kelikume, said until they begin to see the actual implementation of those initiatives, they would be worried about the delay, which prompted the stakeholders to react very swiftly to address the issues.
“We are gathered here today to first and foremost commend the responsiveness of the CG of customs and indeed the hierarchy of customs for hiding to the cry of stakeholders; who pointed to them that this was not the step in the right direction at the time when the country is been faced by global pandemic and our crude oil price is crashed to new levels.
“We need to have the borders and seaports to function very well and oil the wheels of trade and ensure that the country continues to generate revenue to sustain our populace. We commend the CG for swiftly retracting the decision to ban barging activities due to one or two infractions by few members of the association that we are yet to identify.
“Having said this, we are still waiting a formal circular from the customs command to document the reversal, as we have had a meeting with senior official of the customs who have confirmed to us that indeed it has been reverse. But it is very important as it is done in government circles that this reversal be properly documented for future reference,” he said.
“It is very important that they engage with all stakeholders to get their impact and inputs before such decision are made, ”he added.
The association maintained that it would align with government in achieving its objectives for the maritime industry and would not condole any errant members sabotaging the process.
On if members have fully complied with the demands of government and the role barging activities has played to reduce the traffic gridlock along the port corridor, the National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA), Mr. Tony Nwabunike, acknowledged the timeliness of barge usage in Nigeria.
“What we are saying is to generate income for the economy and then BOAN and ANCLA are actually increasing the revenue of the maritime industry. We are asking our members to be law abiding and to be guided with the principles with our area of work.
“Giving the level of grid locks that we are experiencing now in the port, using barges is one of the best system of transportation in the nation now because of the state of roads, as Kiyoto conventions includes it as key areas in ferrying goods,” he noted.