By Kenneth Jukpor
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Benin Republic Customs have created an automated platform that would ensure bilateral connectivity and enhance cross border trade between both countries.
Speaking at a sensitization event in Seme Border yesterday, Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali (Rtd) expressed confidence that the new portal scheduled to kick-off on June 20th would lead to enhanced legitimate trade across the border region.
Ali who was represented by Assistant Comptroller General, and Head of ICT, ACG Benjamin Aber, announced that with the new bilateral connectivity with Benin Republic Customs, declarations made for imports transiting from either of the countries will be electronically shared.
Ali revealed that the ban on vehicle import via the land border was as a result of the pressure of enforcement of anti-smuggling on vehicles which led to loss of lives and revenue at an alarming rate at the land borders.
“By the time we successfully deploy this reliable, transparent and predictable that would assist government agencies, not only customs, to control and regulate the importation of vehicles, Government may decide to relax such restrictions.
“The activity we are undertaking here today is to ensure that we are in control of trade operations here, new policies will come by the time we have this system working”
He also assured that illegal checkpoints mounted by customs officers and other security agencies along the border corridors would disappear automatically when there is a proper electronic platform.
Ali said the establishment of this automated platform and bilateral connectivity means that any truck that leaves Benin Republic, the information is already remotely sent in English to Nigeria Customs Service system.
Reacting to complaints that numerous checkpoints were disrupting cross-border trade, the Customs Area Controller (CAC) at Seme Customs Command, Compt. Mohammed Garba Uba, assured stakeholders that the Customs was working assiduously to address the problem.
Compt. Uba observed that robust collaboration with other security agencies along the border routes as well as timely reports from stakeholders would see the problem eliminated in the nearest future even as he tipped the new bilateral electronic platform to address the issue.