Importers oppose planned reintroduction of pre-inspection of cargoes at seaports
The Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS), has expressed concerns over the planned reintroduction of pre-destination inspection at the nation’s ports.
President of the Association, Jonathan Nicol, told The Guardian that such a move would amount to returning Nigerian ports to the inefficient old ways.
Nichol argued that if the new order sails through, “the shippers will be helpless, the government will retreat, and there will be delays in clearing cargoes as a result of numerous queries on the inspection documents. Stakeholders will be dissatisfied across the board,”
He noted that these were the experiences during the dark days of pre-inspection, adding: “With the foreign inspectors, the Nigeria Customs Service will be partially redundant. Their main duties would be taken away by reactionary forces in the name of one percent surcharge. There will be no meaningful development in terms of empowerment.”
Nichol argued that the shipping trade has evolved positively since the eradication of the pre-inspection regime, adding that shippers are sacrificing so much to make the local institutions work.
“The Nigerian Government spent huge sums to train officials of the Nigeria Customs. The entire maritime stakeholders fought hard to bring back the Nigeria Customs to conduct destination inspection. The equipment (Scanners) handed over to the Nigeria Customs were dilapidated and was a deliberate ploy to make the Customs Service fail. And now they are scheming to return back to the dark days of pre-inspection of cargoes,” he said.
Nichol insisted that “the Shippers Association will definitely challenge this move in whatever means to stop the re-introduction of pre-inspection regime. We are in agreement with the Vice-Chairman of The Association of Nigeria Customs Licensed Agents, and other well-meaning stakeholders in this respect. We thought that the National Assembly kicked against the move at one point. Shippers’ Association will challenge this move.”
Vice-President, ANLCA, Kayode Farinto, had earlier alleged that foreigners are lobbying for contract to operate the scanners.
He bemoaned the continuing 100 per cent cargo examination that enables under-declaration of cargoes and importation of contrabands into the country.
But when contacted, the NCS spokesman, Deputy Comptroller, Joseph Attah, debunked the insinuations, claiming he was not aware of such.
He said: “The management of ANLCA just rose from a meeting with the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, at the headquarters in Abuja a few hours ago (Thursday).