Ports’ Congestion: House Asks Customs to Implement Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business

Udora Orizu

In a bid to eliminate challenges associated with clearing goods at the ports, the House of Representatives at plenary yesterday asked the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to fully implement the Executive Order on the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

The lawmakers who made the call while adopting a motion sponsored by Hon. Abbas Adigun, expressed concerns over the impacts of various challenges militating against clearance of cargoes at the port.

The House therefore mandated its Committee on Customs to investigate the alleged importing and clearing at the Nigeria Customs Service.
It also urged the Customs to ensure that import duties and levies for all categories of goods were clearly stated online and at all customs offices so that intending importers would simply use their bill of laden details to make payment and that the 24-hour cargo clearance stipulated by the service is implemented.

It further urged the federal government to ensure that all examining agencies, especially the NCS are connected to the National Single Window project to make the ports more effective.

Adigun had while moving the motion, expressed concern over the loss of revenue to the country, the closure of companies due to prolonged delay in clearing procedures at the ports and hike in the prices of goods across the country, among others.

He recalled that the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo had on May 18, 2016, signed an Executive Order on the ease of doing business in Nigeria, part of which was regulation of operations at the ports, which empowered the NCS to coordinate other examining agencies.

He lamented that despite the Executive Order, the level of delay in clearing procedure at the ports in Nigeria is still alarming and has resulted in situations where importers and clearing agents are made to pay exorbitant charges for demurrage to shipping companies and terminal operators.

According to him, “The House is also concerned that the delay in clearing procedures has negatively impacted Nigeria’s economy as many companies have closed down, thereby contributing to the rise in prices of goods.

“The House is further concerned that when cargoes are eventually cleared after a long delay, the importers tend to adjust prices of the goods to reflect the additional expenses, thus creating a situation that is perpetually reducing the purchasing power of the masses.

“The House is also aware that the National Single Window project was introduced in Nigeria to integrate all agencies involved in the clearance of cargoes at the ports to ease and hasten inspection, calculation and payment of all import duties, levies and other charges at the nation’s ports.

“The House is disturbed by allegations of artificial bottlenecks devised by customs officials to exploit importers, which has resulted in huge financial losses for importers and clearing agents.

“The House is cognisant that unless there is a reform of ports operations to reduce the number of Customs units involved in cargo cleaning, the turn-around time will continue to be impacted negatively.”

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