The Vice President of the Association of the Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Kayode Farinto has hinted that the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) may fuel the outspread of the deadly COVID-19 Pandemic in the maritime industry.
Farinto in a chat with our correspondent last week stated that if there is an outbreak of the novel corona virus in the industry Customs should be held responsible.
He said the failure of the Service to invoke section 28 and 29 of the Customs Excise and Management Act which give Customs the power to invoke the ‘Bill of Sight’ especially at a time when the country is battling the COVID-19 pandemic is disturbing.
According to him, the Bill of Sight will help reduce human contact at ports and prevent possible outbreak of the pandemic in the maritime industry and the entire country at large.
The Bill of Sight is a form of entry at the customhouse by which goods respecting which the importer is not possessed of full documentation may be provisionally landed for examination
Farinto lamented that despite letters written to the Secretary General of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi and the Customs Comptroller General, Col. Hammed Ali (Rtd.), Customs has failed to invoke the law, describing the customs hierarchy as set of confused people.
According to him “If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in the maritime industry the NCS should be held responsible, we are in a period of war and we suggested that let us invoke Section 28 and 29 of the CEMA law which says that let us use Bill of Sight.
“This means If this man is an importer he has a bill of lading he may not need to go through the process of obtaining a PAAR or Form M, he can go to where ever his cargo is and position the cargo for examination. The valuation unit and all the various unit will look at the examination and the valuation unit will give him a duty to pay and he can leave with the cargo as soon as he pays.”
He also opined that the Bill of Sight would also reduce the number of intervention from customs unit, lamenting that freight agents get about seven frivolous alerts on one consignment.
“Nobody should do any documentation to reduce human contact at ports. A committee can be setup which can be called Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee at every command level. This team should comprise the valuation, CPC and the gate officers. So, as soon as this committee treats a job, nobody should intercept the consignment again,” Farinto posited.