Following declaration by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo that some government agencies were frustrating the federal government’s Ease of Doing Business policy, licenced customs agents and government agencies operating at the ports are trading blames over delays in cargo clearance at the ports.
During an unscheduled visit to the Ports Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML) Port in Lagos, by officials of the Customs Headquarters Public Relations Unit, the agents blamed government agencies of perpetuating illegality.
The visit caught the port users and terminal operators unaware ahead of their agreed 11am joint examination time.
A staff of Interlog Agencies Limited, Adekunle Oladejo told journalists and the visiting team that customs officers were always on ground for examination while the agents have to wait.
Oladejo’s consignment, which consists of liquid chemicals were already positioned for examination by 11:00 a.m while no other government agency aside customs was ready.
On his part, Owolabi Abiodun of Royal Crown Shipping Company blamed persistent rain for delays in examination of perishable chemicals in bags. He added that customs officers were always ready for examination.
An operative of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Ali Ocheni, who arrived at about 11:40a.m, to examination venue, admitted his lateness and blamed it on another assignment he attended to.
Ocheni, a Superintendent of Narcotics also blamed agents for causing delays by not being ready for examination citing bad roads and terminal operator slowness as excuses. He disclosed that he has been in the ports environments for three years and that customs have always invited NDLEA for joint examination
Also, Comptroller Florence Dixon, who just assumed duty as the Customs Area Controller of the command, reiterated customs commitment to trade facilitation, revenue collection without compromising national security.
Dixon said: “I will work to bring everyone together to comply with government directive on ease of doing business. I believe in punctuality and acting promptly. No time wasting and I believe time is money. Customs has been long in trade facilitation.”
Dixon, who was Controller of Edo Delta Command swapped position with Francis Adetoye.
At the busiest terminal, B1 in Tincan port, agencies of government and licenced customs agents also affirmed that other factors were responsible for delays.
An Assistant Chief Regulatory Officer with the NAFDAC, Dr. Anzaku Peters commended the NCS and disclosed that NAFDAC has keyed into NICIS 2
Also speaking, a representative of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Lukman Abayomi, alleged that delays were being caused sometimes by server and banks network.
A staff of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Jibrin Madu called for early cargo examination period.
Public Relations Officer of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Stanley Chidozie Ejiogu, blamed the terminal operator for late positioning of containers
Ejiogu said: “Tin can Island Container Terminal (TICT) usually drops containers by 12.00 noon. A manager with TICT, Abdulrahman Jimoh Abdulwahab, said his company positions containers based on agents’ request.”
He blamed agents for not perfecting their documentation with customs before booking for positioning of their containers, thereby making it impossible for prompt examination.
Deputy Comptroller in charge of B1 terminal, Adamu Sanusi, told THISDAY that as a strategy for quick clearance of goods from the terminal, 14 Assistant Comptrollers were assigned to oversee 14 teams for fast and efficient service delivery.