The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello has called on the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to swiftly initiate a single window to ensure full automation of cargo clearance at the ports.
Hassan Bello noted that the nation has reached a time when there is a dire need to facilitate trade and the Customs had a crucial role to play in the process which would ensure more revenue is generated for the government.
Hassan Bello was speaking during a conference which held as the Zonal Coordinator ‘Zone A’ and Assistant Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, (ACG) Charles Edike paid a working visit to the headquarters of the NSC.
Hassan stressed that Nigeria would not attain hub port status in the West and Central Africa region until it ensures full automation of cargo clearance through the single window platform.
“Nigeria can never be a hub unless we have efficient ports with full automation of cargo clearance via single window. We should also have ports operating 24 hours to ensure 48 hours cargo clearance”, Hassan said.
According to the NSC boss, the corruption in the ports will be easily curbed when the ports become fully automated and technology utilized to limit human contact in all operations in the ports.
ACG Edike said the Customs had tried to initiate 24 hours operations at the ports, but it failed as agents did not show up. He noted that the lack of security, absence of flood lights at terminals and agents were the reasons 24 hours port operation in the country hasn’t be attained.
Ebike assured that the Customs’ deployment of ICT would get better; noting that the zeal of the CG, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) and the mandate of President Buhari will ensure the Customs continue to upgrade.
Responding to the executive secretary’s complaint about scanners, ACG Edike revealed that the Nigerian customs service had plans to buy scanners. He said the customs were looking for vendors.
Although Hassan Bello referred to ACG Edike as “the new face of an interactive customs” He lamented that customs officials at the headquarters delay their response to NSC complaints and sometimes they never reply. Hassan said this was a new development because previously the customs usually responded speedily to NSC complaints.
Also speaking at the conference, the Director of Commercial Shipping, Mrs. Dabney Shall-Holma pleaded with the Customs to partner with Shippers’ Council for the next training on Time Release Studies.
Mrs. Dabney noted that the training should not be restricted to Customs officers alone, but to NSC officials and other major stakeholders in trade facilitation.
By: Kenneth Jukpor