The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), is to collaborate with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to achieve the directive of the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, on 48- hour cargo clearance at the ports.
The Executive Secretary of the NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello, stated this on Friday during a courtesy visit by the Zonal Coordinator of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr. Eporwei Edike, to the Council’s Headquarters in Lagos.
Bello said that there was a need for collaboration because the NSC had been listening to many complaints from all port operators.
“There was an issue raised against the Federal Operations Unit of Customs that some of the officers usually stop containers on the highways after being cleared out of the ports.
“When we informed the service, the issue was addressed and the agents are now commending the Customs unit’s effort after the complaint.
“Although, Customs has been supporting NSC, being the catalyst of trade facilitation,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Bello as saying.
He said that there was a need to continue to collaborate on trade facilitation, adding that the Comptroller-General of Customs, Retired Col. Hameed Ali, had been demonstrating a lot of efforts in ensuring less time of doing business at the ports.
Bello said that the NSC could not do it alone, adding that it needed the support of Customs to make Nigerian ports the hub of West and Central Africa.
He said there was corruption in the port system due to the constant human interface.
The executive secretary advised that customs should upgrade its ICT to enable traders to stop coming to the ports which had been affecting the 48- hour cargo clearance target.
Bello said that customs could upgrade its ICT and automation in order to reduce human contact, adding that the ICT would help to know the actual number of cargoes in the ports.
He explained that 70 per cent of Customs revenue came from maritime industry, adding that if Nigerian ports were efficient, they would compete globally.
Bello said, “We cannot but be conscious and determined to achieve uniformity in our operations to enable shippers to choose the nearest port that can reduce the costs of doing business.
He said that if cargo dwell time is reduced, it would enable other neighbouring countries to bring their cargoes through Nigerian ports.
Speaking earlier, Edike said that his visit was a follow-up of the Customs comptroller-general’s visit in ensuring trade facilitation.
Edike said that he was aware of many complaints concerning customs operations, adding that the visit was meant to listen to the complaints and correct those that had to do with customs operations.
He said that there was a need for all port operators to work toward reducing the time being spent in doing business at the ports to enable the service to generate more revenue through customs.
The zonal coordinator said that he had been having meetings with all the commands under the zone in ensuring smooth operation and to stop corruption at all levels.
He said that service had commissioned an ICT centre in Apapa, adding that maritime journalists were the first set of people the service trained on ICT to report Customs operations effectively.
Edike said that the comptroller-general had gone round Customs commands with the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to check all Customs equipment.
The zonal coordinator said that the service had agreed to buy new scanners to boost customs operations.
He, however, urged the terminal operators to improve the security of the ports environment and to also provide lights at night to assist Customs in achieving the 48-hour cargo clearance target.
Edike said that both Customs and the terminal operators were ready to work for 24 hours but the agents were not ready for night operation.